Mental Health Tips as Life Gets 'Back to Normal'
Here's how you can take care of yourself as we navigate the anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic.
These weeks it may feel impossible to escape the reminders of the trauma of last year—and social media posts, birthdays, and other significant dates can bring intense feelings forward as we try to cope with the ongoing pandemic.
“People have been saying ‘we’re in this together’ throughout the pandemic, and now it’s important to understand people’s individual needs, and recognize that many people are still grieving or are not yet ready to move on from what they experienced,” says Michelle Riba, a psychiatrist and professor at Michigan Medicine, the University of Michigan’s academic medical center and a member of the U-M Depression Center.
Riba and other mental health experts at Michigan Medicine share strategies on how to cope during this time in Michigan Health.
- Adjust your social media habits. Many social media platforms have “on this day” and “memories” features which can be painful when confronted with unexpected memories. Turn this feature off, or limit it to help keep yourself at peace.
- Scale back your work habits. When we're working from home, we often find ourselves working more—and having a hard time separating home, and relaxing, from work and stress. It's as important as ever to take time to recharge.
- Prepare for the anniversaries. Anniversaries of death and loss can be really triggering. Plan ahead and schedule time away from work, or something healing you can do on that day so that you are not alone.
- Think of the positives. As you continue to reflect on the past year, take the time to also think about the good things to come out of the year. Whatever they are—hobbies, more time with families, connecting online with friends, etc.—they are strengths than can help you adjust to the "new normal."
- Understand the "New Normal." As vaccines become more available and life as we used to know it seems to return, remember that getting to the "new normal" is a dial, not a switch. Understand that everyone is moving in different degrees toward this goal.
“As we reach these anniversaries, we don’t have to reenact everything we’ve been through—that’s not the best way,” says Riba. “But we can try to find meaning and purpose, new growth and support and appreciate one another.”