Have you been feeling a bit unsettled over the last few days? Maybe a little anxious and not knowing why? I have. Today marks the one-year anniversary for ERS when we shut down due to COVID-19. Overnight, our worlds – and those of our residents – changed dramatically.
For many of us, the anniversary marks a year of losses: not hugging friends, not traveling, not dining in restaurants, and even not attending significant family events such as weddings, graduations, and funerals.
If you're feeling the weight of the year, you're not alone. Psychologists call it the “anniversary effect.” Not unlike another type of anniversary, there is anticipation. However, in the case of COVID-19, this anniversary has a negative feel. Perhaps most similar to the anniversary of the death of someone you love. It is also a bit different in that everyone around you is living the experience, not just your immediate family.
So what can you do to get through this portion of the marathon called COVID-19?
- Name it: Be aware that your feelings may be related to the anniversary. Or, maybe if a friend, co-worker, or family member is short with you or sad, remember that it may be related to the anniversary.
- Talk to people you trust: Perhaps a friend, relative, or spouse can be of comfort. Consider reaching out to a professional counselor, if needed. There's no shame in asking for help.
- Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do: Instead of focusing on what you can’t do, turn it around. I can travel using safe practices; however, I may have to wait to go back outside the U.S. I can be with my family, but I may have to wait to see my aunt in another state that is not vaccinated. I can share with residents that some can visit families, and hopefully, all residents will be reunited soon. Our human brains sometimes need help with focusing on the possibilities when we see limitations.
- Be kind to yourself: Take care of yourself. Establish a routine that includes at least 8 hours of sleep, get up and move, and other healthy habits. Establish healthy balances between work and home time. Maybe turn off notifications on devices after hours or take breaks from social media, when you notice yourself scrolling too much.
- Please don’t give up on the things we know work: Make sure you wear your masks, social distance, get the vaccine when eligible, and make good choices about what you do and who you do it. We are not quite to the finish line, and we need everyone to continue with the basics to make it to the end of the marathon!
Please know that I am thinking of each of you on this not-so-happy anniversary.
ERS President & CEO