Help for the long marathon of COVID-19

Help for the long marathon of COVID-19

by Suzanne Grimmesey, MFT, Santa Barbara County, Department of Behavioral Wellness

Just a couple months ago, we all felt like the pandemic was coming to an end and that we had finally made it past the finish line of this long marathon. Then, just when we thought things were getting better, along came the Delta variant which, in keeping with the marathon analogy, made us feel like we were asked to run a half marathon the day after finishing the first marathon.

With the advent of the Delta variant, we had not yet recuperated from the mental and emotional exhaustion felt from the pandemic. Prolonged stress, fear, constant vigilance to our safety and the safety of others, and the many unknowns have taken a toll on us all. Then, all of the new information on Delta hit us at a time when our minds and spirits are beyond exhausted. For many of us, our minds are not capable of taking in information and new unknowns in the same way. In addition to being completely exhausting, hearing new information can create a high level of frustration, even distrust or suspicion.

Finding ways to hold onto the feelings we had earlier this year when we thought the pandemic was over are important. We need to hold tight to those feelings we had when everyone first got vaccinated; the joy of being able to visit with friends and family again, socialize indoors without masks, return to work, plan for return to school, play sports freely. We need hope, shared hope. We are all in this together and we will make it through together, strengthening our overall resilience as individuals and as a community.

It is not an easy thing to accept that we are not yet done with the pandemic. In fact, it is entirely possible that things may get worse before they get better. We simply MUST rely on each other, family, friends, neighbors, our community and our connections. We must keep going forward and be prepared for ongoing change to continue and evolve. 

Here are some tools that may help you deal with the toll of what we are all going through:

  • Let go of control. There are so many things we cannot control right now; focus on the things you can control. 
  • Focus on what is working. Yes, there are things that are not working well right now, but there are also things that are working. Focus on the simple things that bring positive emotions.
  • Reduce media intake. Pick a few trusted sources of news and review them once or twice a day.  Resist the urge to constantly check the news and social media. 
  • Map out your daily lows. Map out the lowest points in your day or when you are feeling most tired and depleted, and  plan to give yourself a boost at that time. Be intentional about using that time to work in something small that makes you feel good (a walk, a coffee break, pet your dog, hug your child, call a friend, meditate).
  • Take good care of yourself. Work in daily time outdoors. Work in exercise. Get fresh air. Walk your dog or walk with a friend or neighbor. Move your body. Eat healthy meals. Stay hydrated.
  • Stay connected. Stay connected with others. Reach out for more help when needed.

Talk to others. At some point, everyone needs a little help. Please reach out for support – we have so much support available in our community. If you need help connecting to resources, you may call the Community Wellness Team at 805-364-2750 or visit: https://sbccwt.org/.