Do you feel irritated easily, experience days of overwhelming sadness, or feel lonely on a regular basis? Do you feel unable to pull out of a subtle depression or ongoing ambivalence, overwhelmed by all that is unfolding around us during the coronavirus pandemic? If so, you are absolutely not alone. The COVID funk is a real symptom of surviving the reality we all face right now amidst this time of social isolation, fear, and uncertainty.
In this post, we’ll help you understand more about this feeling, and how you can overcome it, based on the work we are doing with our clients at Center for Shared Insight in Denver, Colorado.
What you might be feeling
Not only are you in a funk of a mood from COVID-19 scares and limitations on life, the political and racial climate is likely adding to feelings of tension, irritability, ambivalence, isolation, anxiety, and malaise. Globally, we have never been here before, and as we try to overcome this pandemic, you probably don’t know how to move forward given all of the unknowns. That uncertainty might range from not knowing whether your kids should attend in-person school this fall or how you will manage if your kids are learning from home again, whether you should find a new job that can be 100% remote to protect yourself from the virus, and even something as simple as not knowing whether you should schedule a vacation to celebrate an upcoming milestone as you eagerly watch for some sort of hope in the news. Not to mention, if you have been impacted by other life stressors, such as the death of a loved one from the virus or the loss of a job due to the shaky economy, the COVID funk can really set in.
For some, the COVID funk can also provide fertile conditions for other new, underlying or preexisting conditions to sprout up. These might include a major depressive episode, obsessive-compulsive behaviors, generalized anxiety or panic attacks. If this is the case, we recommend reaching out to a licensed therapist who provides, in-person or video therapy, to help provide skilled interventions to support you during this time.
Focus on what you CAN do
You probably feel stuck, helpless, frustrated, and unable to control your future as you wait for things to improve. Instead of dwelling on these feelings, focus on what you can do, such as enjoying time in nature, prioritizing self-care, and maybe spending quality time with a small group of your best friends, socially distanced. Don’t forget that remaining positive and optimistic is also within your control. Keep a growth mindset by looking for the silver linings of a quieter social calendar and more family time.
This is also a great opportunity to save for and plan for the future. Research your dream vacation, define your financial priorities with your partner, or identify a hobby you’d love to explore. Maybe it’s climbing all the peaks in a certain area, or hiking all the trails in a state park nearby. Perhaps it’s taking up photography, or knitting, or painting. It may also be a great time for you to find ways to volunteer or participate more actively in a political campaign or social justice movement. Whatever you’ve been interested in throughout your life, but never had time to pursue, now is the time to indulge in a new hobby. It’s possible that your life will never again have this kind of space and potential. Use it to step back and redefine what you’d like your life to look like.
Communicate your needs
Whether you recognize the impact of the COVID funk, or have simply just not been yourself since the pandemic unfolded, don’t hesitate to reach out to others in an honest way. If you are lonely, share that with a trusted friend and learn how you might be able to lean on them for authentic connection and support during this time with a weekly video chat or socially distant lunch outdoors. If you are overwhelmed managing your kids at home, let your boss know what is going on and how much the juggling has left you feeling depleted, burned out, and unfocused. Choose to be vulnerable and real with those closest to you about how you are feeling and what kind of support and connection you need. Others in your life likely want to go out of their way to help lift the collective spirit of humanity during this dark and uncertain time.
At Center for Shared Insight in Denver, Colorado, we’ve been hearing more and more about the COVID funk with clients feeling depleted and ambivalent after months of social distancing and careful behavior to stay safe. We invite clients to own and define these feelings, while helping them figure out how to channel their energy into activities that provide a healthy distraction from and coping during the current pandemic.
If you feel you could also use the guidance and support of our team of therapists, contact us now for a free consultation with our intake coordinator.