Time in isolation can sometimes give rise to negative or distorted thinking that is frequently followed by feelings of despair or panic.
We all fall into traps of catastrophizing, fortune telling, or comparing—to name a few. You may have found yourself thinking some of the following. Consider reframing your thoughts in ways that are true as well as less fear-producing.
My kids are driving me crazy.
– This is hard for everyone. We will get through this. My kids are having a tough time, too, so I can extend some grace.
My kids are going to fall behind academically.
– Everyone’s kids are in the same boat. They will get the help they need when they return to school. In the meantime, I will do the best I can.
I can’t take another day of this.
– I only have to take one moment at a time.
I’m going to gain 50 pounds before this is all over.
– I want to take care of myself and if that means occasionally overindulging, that’s OK. It is highly unlikely I will gain 50 pounds. There are a lot of things I can do to maintain healthy eating habits.
I hate it that I can’t go to the gym or to my exercise classes.
– When things return to a somewhat normal state, I can return to my gym. There are a lot of free workouts online, and I can always go for more walks. Being at home gives me extra time to stretch and stay limber.
Everyone else’s families are doing fun stuff together.
– I have no idea what is going on inside anyone else’s home. It’s a good idea for me not to judge my own experiences by everyone else’s social media posts. I’m only responsible for taking care of my family.
My marriage will never survive this.
– We can get through this. I can look for ways to increase connection between us even when we are stressed. I am only responsible for how I act toward my partner, and I can find ways to de-escalate tension.
Other people are putting us all at risk if they don’t observe the same guidelines as I do.
– I can only be responsible for minimizing my own risks by obeying social distancing guidelines.
Our economy could collapse, and we could end up in another great depression.
– None of us know how this will affect the economy. I can do what I can to save money, spend wisely, and plan as well as possible for the future. If things get tough down the road, I will figure out a way to manage it.
I am overwhelmed by sadness at the loss of life and loss of economic stability.
– I can feel very sad for others and hang on to hope and optimism at the same time. I can look for ways to reach out to others, and I can be a supportive presence to my friends and family even if we can’t be together in the same room.
Things will never be the same again.
– Just because things will not return to the way they were before the virus does not mean they can’t be good. I just have to stay focused on the present moment.
Remember that reframing our thoughts isn’t just about looking on the bright side or thinking happy thoughts. It is a way to expand our capacity to see things from a different perspective, and we can all benefit from that.