The COVID-19 pandemic has caused untold disruption and loss across the globe; and as we shift into an endemic phase, COVID continues to impact our communities in both seen and unseen ways. Just as there is no singular experience of the pandemic itself, there is no one emotional experience either. For many, COVID-19 has required a stressful reorientation to work, family, and school - sometimes creating anxiety and isolating experiences. For others, the pandemic also represents a deep source of grief, economic distress, and trauma. Whatever your experience, it is valid.
Although many are approaching a new normal, the United States occupies a place of privilege and our layered experience as intersectional beings (across race, SES, gender, sexual orientation, ability/disability) also impacts our ongoing interactions with COVID. COVID-19 has caused many losses, including the loss of life and aspects of health, loss of jobs and financial security, loss of social connections, and loss of rituals, like attending holidays with family, graduations, and celebrating other milestones. At times, the grief we’ve experienced is more ambiguous or without a clear sense of closure. When we experience a loss that’s difficult to understand, we can feel stuck and left searching for answers.
Indeed, such answers can be even harder to find when one is a member of a marginalized group. The continued degradation of communities’ sense of belonging and faith in institutions is an additional barrier to healing. The viral pandemic brought greater light to the simultaneous pandemic of racism and ableism in the United States. During COVID-19, people faced increased instances of hate and violence against Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities, police brutality against Black, Indigenous, People of Color, a tumultuous presidential election, and more. As we work toward healing, we must rebuild communities, strengthen relationships, and hold institutions accountable for the long-abiding pandemic of institutional racism. Moreover, for communities navigating chronic illnesses such as Long COVID, disabilities, or access to resources in particular, the lingering impact of COVID continues to have painful and sometimes invisible implications.
So, what’s next?
- It’s okay to feel anxious: Acknowledge your feelings and know that you are not alone. Anxiousness may emerge in the face of stopping practices like universal mask wearing. Consider checking out RIO, the Counseling Center’s three-session mindfulness workshop that offers tools for managing anxiety and stress.
- Take things at your pace: It’s okay to decline invitations to a get-together, or to continue to wear a mask even if you aren’t mandated to. Showing yourself and others patience and compassion can help ease worry and create space for you to honor your wellness and safety needs.
- Identify ways to notice which behaviors are grounded in wellness vs. avoidance.
- COVID-19 continues to impact our communities in both seen and unseen ways. Engage in transparency and clear communication about recent COVID exposures, infection, or masking needs to help keep our collective community well and challenge systemic ableism.
- Create a list of activities you’d like to make time for and experience in the evolving COVID landscape.
- Schedule in regular time for self-care: Focusing on mindfulness, doing activities that you love, exercising, and more can help ease feelings of stress and anxiety.
- If you’re experiencing possible symptoms of Long COVID or chronic illness resulting from COVID, keep Disability and Accessibility Services in mind as a resource for accommodations.
- Take social media breaks: There continues to be a great deal of news circulating that may be upsetting. Putting your phone away for stretches of time or turning off social media notifications can be a big help.
- Stay aware of prolonged grief disorder: If you or someone close to you experiences prolonged and intense grief, it’s important to ask for help.
- Reconnect with affirming spaces and communities when you are ready.
Remember: the COVID-19 pandemic is a shared experience, affecting everyone in the world, albeit in different ways. While we might not have the same reactions, and some may even seem to transition more easily into the new “normal,” we must extend patience and understanding to others, as well as to ourselves.
Our office located in Humanities 150 is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 am until 5pm. We are closed when the university is closed. If you are struggling to adjust, or are looking to connect with a counselor, you can schedule an appointment online, stop by our office or give us a call at 410-617-2273. To speak with an after-hours counselor, please call 410-617-5530. Both in-person and virtual services are available; please let our front desk team or your counselor know if wearing masks for in-person appointments (for both client and counselor) will better support you as you engage in our services.