Here Are 6 Ways to Help Yourself During the Pandemic

Helpful actions you can take today.

Posted Mar 17, 2020

Kristin Meekhof
Source: Kristin Meekhof

It is normal to be in a fog, as we are all in uncharted territory. And since, thankfully, this has never happened before, there is no frame of reference for what to do. You can't say, "Last time, I handled it this way, and it worked."  

Chances are, you are shell-shocked and have no idea how you're going to survive today or the next few weeks. In the following days, you'll find here some helpful suggestions here for how to organize your tasks and take care of your emotional well-being. 

In no particular order, here are six suggestions for what to do today: 

Separate tasks that need immediate attention from those that do not. For example, if you do need to find an insurance card or information regarding your utilities, do this. Remember, don't try to do everything now. Ask yourself: Can this wait a few weeks? This situation is not personal. Everyone is aware things have gone sideways, so people are understanding that you've not replied to a personal email. 

If you need help, ask for it. If you've never had to file for unemployment, you may need assistance getting the proper forms or knowing how to complete them. Contact someone at your human resources office. Or if you are self-employed, find someone else who is also in a similar position to you. Ask them what next steps they are taking.

You can also ask your city or government representatives if they are able to tell you how to proceed. You don't have to be embarrassed that you don't know what to do next. Remember, it is better to put shame to the side, so you can receive the guidance you need. 

Choose carefully what you will cancel. In a panic, you may cancel your online subscriptions, only later to find out that your weekly movie night gives you a sense of calm. During the next few weeks, notice what you do use. Do you use the subscription app? Do you find it helps? 

Don't try to be a people pleaser. Communicating with others can be a challenge now. So saying "no" isn't about being self-centered. You may find yourself with many strange requests. Everything from doing a distance dropoff to listening to someone dump their problems on you. Be polite, but remember it is OK to say "no" to save yourself from undue stress.

This goes back to the infamous oxygen mask scenario. Give the oxygen to yourself first before trying to assist everyone else. If you fall apart, you won't be able to help anyone. You can tell anyone pressuring you to make a decision (that you know doesn't have to be made now) that you will let them know once you feel things have settled down. 

Don't speak negatively to yourself. While your self-confidence may have taken a plunge, you aren't doing yourself any favors by beating yourself down. Simply hush the inner critic. Treating yourself with kind words of compassion rather than criticism is helpful. 

Write things down. You may not be able to think as clearly as you've done in the past. There are going to be unusual phone calls, emails, texts, and conversations in general that you are going to have. You may need to reference them later.

If everything is in your notebook, you can easily go back to the page, and it will make it easier to recall the date and conversation. If it is a text, screenshot it, and email it to yourself. You can put this in an email folder. 

Emotions can be foggy and scary now. You may feel as if you're talking underwater, and others don't understand you. Be sure to reach out to your doctor and licensed mental health professional to get the help you need.