There isn't a right way to handle the COVID-19 Crisis
We, as Americans and as worldwide citizens, are in crisis. There’s no denying it. Many of us feel like we’re free-falling into financial ruin, illness, and isolation. The COVID-19 crisis has not only put immense pressure on nations but on individuals as well. It seems like so quickly, our lives all changed, and now we’re left in an uncertain aftermath.
If you turn on the news or browse online, you can find numerous articles and ideas on how to best handle the social distancing and stay-at-home decrees. Psychologists will weigh in and tell you how you should handle the changes, and all sorts of people are issuing ideas on social media. All around, everyone seems to want to generalize how we can best endure the seemingly forever changed status of our individual lives.
But here’s the thing I keep thinking: I don’t think there is a single “right” way to handle this crisis as an individual. Sure, we’re all in this together. We all need to cooperate and get the financial and health crisis under control. However, from a psychological standpoint, there can’t be a “one size fits all” approach to coming out of this changed society feeling positive.
We all will handle it in our own way.
For some of us, we turn to humor. We share funny memes and jokes online about the crisis. This doesn’t mean we’re downplaying the very real threat or trying to mitigate anyone’s losses. We handle hardship with laughter. It’s just who we are—and that’s a perfectly okay way to endure this situation.
Some of us will find ourselves crying in the shower daily and just trying to survive minute to minute. Change is hard for us. Crisis is hard for us. We can’t help but feel anxious about the uncertainties and about what’s next. We feel sad about what we’ve lost. That doesn’t mean we feel like our cancelled graduation or concert is worth more than lives. It just means we’re grieving. And this is a perfectly understandable reaction to the crisis.
For some of us who are go-getters and goal setters, we feel the need to keep busy in this time. We’re the ones posting about learning new languages or reading more books or taking a class with the stay-at-home order. We need to feel like we’re putting this undefined amount of time to good use because we can’t stand wasted opportunities or minutes. This doesn’t mean we’re judging you if you’re struggling to get through a regular daily routine without learning Russian or French or taking a painting class. It’s just how we best cope with a negative situation. We feel the need to pull something positive from it in the form of goals and achievement of those goals. This is the best way for us to handle it, which is perfectly acceptable.
Some of us hate feeling helpless, so we turn to helping others in this time. We feel the need to sew masks or deliver groceries or whatever we can to feel in control of something. We need to express empathy, not just in words, but through doing. We devote our time to finding ways to rally behind others. It doesn’t mean we’re looking for accolades or trying to be Mother Theresa. It just is the way we feel most in control of the situation. That is a perfectly admirable way to handle this crisis.
Some of us feel the need to self soothe in these tough times in any way we can. We might be the ones in the stores accused of buying non-essential items. It isn’t that we’re trying to be disrespectful. We just need to find some way to bring a piece of “normal” life back, of happiness. For some of us that might be through chocolates at Target or a face mask that you don’t think is necessary. For some of us, that might be getting takeout or ordering from Amazon or posting about a new makeup product online. For some of us, that might look like pulling away a little bit and taking time for self-reflection and self-care. We aren’t trying to be selfish. We are just trying to get through, and that is a perfectly acceptable response.
Some of us will reach out to others in this time, needing social interaction in any form. We’re the ones making videos on social media or trying to organize family Zoom meetings. We just need people around us to help us feel like it’s all going to be okay. We’re trying to do our part to social distance, but it’s hard. And that’s a perfectly understandable response to the situation.
Some of us will find mixtures of these approaches to work for us or completely different approaches. Some of us will swear this is the worst time in our lives. For some of us, we will choose to look at the positives and find something good in all of this.
No matter how we choose to handle this crisis as individuals, however, that’s the thing--they are all acceptable ways. As long as we are doing our best to follow the guidelines of the state and the government to help put an end to this, there isn’t a single right way to handle our changed world. We all need to find the approach on our own that works for us.
However, what I do think we all need to do is be more understanding of this fact. I’ve seen so many articles, posts, and comments online slamming other people for how they are dealing with the situation. Please, please, please do your best to extend kindness and understanding to others. None of us expected this crisis or wanted it to hit home. None of us wanted to see family members sick or unemployed or struggling. None of us wanted to wake up to everything changed in our lives.
But here we are. And now it’s our job to do the best with it in the way that works for us—and to extend graciousness to each other in this difficult time. Wearing masks and social distancing isn’t the only way we can succeed in this together. It is also through extending kindness, understanding, and patience, especially online where it seems like judgement and anger run rampant.
So however you’re handling this crisis: Keep doing your best. Reach out if you need help. And remember that you’re doing okay, no matter how you’re doing it.
Stay Safe and Be True,
L.A. Detwiler, Author
USA TODAY Bestselling Thriller author with Avon Books (HarperCollins), The Widow Next Door