A Lot's Changed, Including You.
(And That's Okay.)
After all the changes you’ve faced during the pandemic, you might not know how to feel about coming back in person. Whether you’re excited and filled with appreciation for everyday life or you’re feeling awkward and overthinking everything, you’re not alone. Anything you're feeling is valid and understandable.
Coping with COVID in real time means acknowledging those feelings, nurturing your well-being, and adapting to changes as they come. Keep these tips in mind to make your return to in-person life a resilient one.
What tips would you like to explore?
Keep a pen and index card or your notes app handy to create a personalized on-the-go cheat sheet.
COVID-19 In Real Time
We've come a long way since March 2020, but there's still work to do to end the COVID-19 pandemic.
Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. If you haven't gotten your vaccine yet, it's not too late to reap the benefits. COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective, and free!
Your perspective matters. It can empower you or take your power away.
To return to in-person living resiliently, practice noticing the way you think and how that influences your feelings and actions.
3 Ways to Change Your Perspective
Make room for our differences. No two people will see the world the same way, but when we remain open to other perspectives, we discover our universal human experiences and learn to see even challenging situations differently.
Aim to Adapt
Curiosity and flexible expectations help us adapt to change. If you're feeling stressed, explore your expectations. It may be time to adjust them, set a boundary, solve a problem, or let it be okay to not feel okay. Every situation will be different.
Try It Now
Gratitude meditation helps you acknowledge positive aspects of life
How to practice:
- Let your body settle into its natural state.
- Release tension with every breath.
- Reflect on the past day or week, and identify things you are grateful for.
- Spend time with each moment that comes to mind and allow yourself to appreciate that moment.
- Allow your mind to visit more and more things you feel grateful for.
However you feel about returning in person, step back and see your life from a broader perspective. You can choose what stays, what goes, and what lifestyle you cultivate. This is YOUR new normal.
Here are four questions to get you started:
What’s something new you’ve learned, discovered, or practiced during the pandemic that you’d like to hold on to?
What's something you miss about life before the pandemic that you would like to get back to?
Which changes are out of your control? How can you work with rather than against them?
What do you have the power to choose or change right now? What does this make possible for you?
College brings enough challenges and responsibilities as it is without also navigating a pandemic. With the mounting pressures and the unknowns of what's to come, it's more important now than ever to treat yourself with kindness and stay true to yourself.
Start With Mindfulness & Self-Compassion
When you give yourself permission to feel however you’re feeling, you also give yourself the chance to find a way through. This is how we show up authentically and treat ourselves as someone worth taking care of during difficult times.
Explore these common pandemic experiences and how to cope with them:
Returning to a space where life once felt very normal can suddenly magnify how much has changed. Sometimes, this can be too much to take in all at once. Give yourself the space to honor all you've been through and process what it's like to be where you are now.
Coping With Pandemic-Related Trauma
A little bit at a time, bridge the gap between what was and what is. Here's how:
- When you're overwhelmed, take a deep breath.
- Name what you're feeling, if you can.
- Focus on the sights, sounds, and smells around you in the present moment.
- Use a safety statement that resonates with you. “I am (where you are located). I am safe. These feelings will pass.”
- Connect with others. Facetime a friend, or call a family member. That sense of connection alone with provide comfort and safety.
Loss is inherent in change, and if nothing else, the pandemic brought change to us all. Not everyone experienced the same degree of change or loss, but they were present for everyone.
There's no right or wrong way to grieve. Allow yourself to have an authentic experience, whatever that may be for you. Your own caring attention is one of the most important things you can give yourself right now.
Coping with Pandemic-Related Grief
- Take care of yourself with a holistic approach to wellness.
- Be mindful of your energy. Give yourself time away from the news, media, and stories of pain.
- Create a meaningful and sustainable routine. Be sure to include rest.
- Reach out to the people who matter.
- Recognize loss as a universal experience. This can help you let go of judgment (of yourself or others) and feel less alone.
- Move toward acceptance of the distance between what was and what is. Keep an open mind for what the future may hold.
Whether it’s asking people to put on a mask, or finding out if the friends coming over have been vaccinated, COVID continues to present new and challenging boundaries to navigate. How do we have those hard conversations and stick with our boundaries?
setting new boundaries
- Set the intention by knowing your boundaries.
- Get consent. Talk about safety precautions and your personal choices ahead of time.
- Be clear, concise, and calm. Being vague may feel like it avoids the conflict, but it often just leads to frustration and miscommunication.
- Remember: you are only responsible for your feelings and actions. Setting a boundary can lead to strong emotional responses, but you are not responsible for that reaction as long as you have been calm, clear and kind.
- Stay consistent. Sometimes setting the boundary is the easiest part. Maintaining the boundary is harder. Be prepared for situations when it feels easier to let that boundary slide. A feeling of guilt, anxiety, or irritation can be a clue that you are letting someone cross your boundaries.
After more than a year of social distancing, coming back in person can feel threatening. People can see your whole body...unfiltered. You may feel exposed and unsure of how others will react when they see you in real life. Vulnerability like this is uncomfortable, but vulnerability is what allows us to live authentically and make meaningful connections. When you feel insecure, take a breath and remind yourself that you belong here.
Two ways to encourage yourself:
Speak kindly to yourself
Your inner voice will be with you for your whole life. Why not make it kinder? If you're not sure how, here are some tips:
- Talk to yourself like you would talk to a friend.
- If you catch yourself being self-critical, take a step back and ask, "Would I speak to someone else like this?"
- When you criticize yourself, follow the negative statement with three positives. Research has shown a ratio of 3 positives to one negative has a significant positive impact on your well-being.
- When you're struggling, remind yourself that you're not alone. Everyone has insecurities and struggles with them in different ways. So, don't beat yourself up for having insecurities.
YOU ARE MORE THAN A BODY
Your body is helping you survive a global pandemic & that is something to be proud of. Bodies change for lots of reasons and it’s totally normal. If you are having feelings about your body image, consider these tips/mantras!
- There is no wrong way to have a body.
- Pause and ask: What do I need to feel nourished, energized, and strong right now in this moment? Your ‘right now’ self deserves your care.
- Our bodies help us do things; they aren’t just here to be looked at.
- Care instead of compare: Care for your body instead of comparing it to others.
- Shape and size are not indicators of character, morality, intelligence, or success. Self-worth does not have a size!
The pandemic may have affected your feeling of connection to other people and comfort with interacting, especially in person. When this feels challenging, here are some things you can try:
- Ease into change.
- Give yourself small challenges to expand your comfort zone where it would be most important.
- Practice asking the important people in your life about their vaccination status and how they would feel most comfortable interaction (e.g., asking if you can hug them.)
- Recognize your personal warning signs and ask for help when you need it.
Here are some warning signs it may be time to reach out for help. Remember, you don’t need to have warning signs or feel a certain way in order to seek help.
- daily life or functioning is negatively impacted
- feeling overwhelmed
- sleep pattern changes
- appetite changes
- mood changes
- relying on substances to get through the day
- not feeling like yourself
- negative thoughts and feelings persist for two weeks or more
Not sure how you feel? Take a free mental health screening.
The pandemic may have had a mixed impact on your wellness and mental health. This is your chance to take charge of your wellness and hold on to the positives. Think about what those were for you. You may have gotten more sleep, had less demands on your time, cooked at home more, connected with friends and family, experienced nature, and moved your body in different ways, among others.
Now that we’re slowly moving back to in-person life, focus on nurturing your wellness and implementing positive changes as you build your new routine.
Support Your Wellness Now:
Pathways to Wellness
The domains of wellness are the building blocks to a healthy, happy, thriving life. Get to know where you stand, what you want and need in each domain to help you forge your unique wellness path.
Take Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing
As you continue to adjust to COVID in real-time, we want to remind you to live well, today. Take care of your whole self - physical, mental, emotional health - you’re worth it.
Mental Health & Wellness Tools
Self-help can help you regain a sense of control over the problems in your life and improve your quality of life. Even small changes can add up and make a big impact on your daily life and sense of self.