By Andrea Davis and Erik Berman
Stress isn’t always recognizable. For most of us COVID-19 has caused dramatic changes in the way we live and work. It’s no surprise that it can cause stress and anxiety, even if you don’t realize it. During this time, self-care is critical, especially because the traditional lines between stressful activities like work or school and relaxing spaces like one’s home are blurred. Whether you are working from home, sheltering in place, or just doing your best to keep everything together day by day (we’re doing a combination of all three), be kind to yourself, tolerant of others, and keep in contact with your community. We miss you. Here’s a few things to consider as we all adjust to this new normal.
You might find yourself moody and unproductive or hyper-focused on cleaning baseboards. Your children might be diving deep into video games or social media while your partner might become more remote and curt. All of these could be forms of coping mechanisms.
If someone you are living with is acting differently, more solitary/angry/needy it could be signs of stress. The signs of stress in children are especially difficult to recognize. Introverts and extroverts can have opposite social needs and this can affect how they adjust to sheltering in place. Now is the time to get creative with finding comfort in your current environment, whether it’s joining an online dance party or putting on an eye mask and headphones in the corner of the busy living room.
Let go of the notion that you need to be more productive with the extra time we think we have in our days. Remember, you are not working from home or homeschooling; you are at your home, during a crisis, trying to do the best you can in a challenging situation. When this all started, our social media feeds were full of people planning to do all sorts of things with their new “free” time, from learning a new language to reorganizing their sock drawer. Now people are watching Tiger King or obsessively following the news. The only resolution people seem to be keeping is to start baking.
Socializing is critical for your mental health, even for some of us introverted librarians. University of Arizona psychology professor Matthias Mehl said he thinks the term "social distancing" is a regrettable choice of words; it’s physical distancing we need to adhere to and socializing is more important than ever. After this extended period of sheltering in place, people are missing social outings with families and friends. Our children are craving a return to playgrounds, seeing sports teammates, or even the jostling hallways at school. With our work spouses at home and the water cooler in a shuttered office you may feel yourself more isolated than ever. Know that you are not alone. People across the world are feeling the same way.
Finding joyful ways to connect to each other in this physically distant situation can help ease the feelings of isolation. Neighbors around the world are joining in a giant round of applause every evening in an act of gratitude for all the frontline workers who are keeping society going. Lean out your window at 7pm or 8pm tonight and make some noise to #ClapBecauseWeCare. Having a sense of humor helps too.
We at the library are dealing with stress in a lot of different ways. We’re being sure to go outside (even the introverts), get some Vitamin D sun and enjoy nature blooming all around us. We’re making an effort to get some exercise; our kids have been getting a giggle from Cosmic Kids Yoga. And of course, we wouldn’t be responsible librarians if we didn’t recommend reading a book or two. The library has tons of eBooks and eMagazines to get you through the day. If you’re looking for reading recommendations, try our Book Match service.
Check out our suggestions for dealing with stress and share your favorites with your friends. Come back here next week for more ways we’re bringing the library into your home.