Daniel Wasserlauf

Covid 19 Mental Framing

Posted byDaniel Wasserlauf

We are in the midst of a world changing event. COVID-19, a global pandemic, has forced businesses to close and many of us to isolate for fear of spreading “the invisible enemy.” We don’t know exactly how long our current situation will last or how many people will be effected. To say COVID-19 has caused anxiety and fear is an understatement. However, after talking to my mother about self isolation and the pandemic I began to wonder how to make the most of our new, temporary, way of life.

I try to call my parents every Sunday. This past Sunday we discussed COVID-19. My mom runs her own business and had to cancel all of her appointments for the foreseeable future so she could limit exposure for herself and clients. COVID-19 caused her to lose money and compromised her daily routine, yet my mother actually seemed happy. She described all of the creative projects she wanted to work on, how her and my dad have started writing poetry together, and the adventures she was going on. It seemed strange to me at the time that there could be so much joy and happiness in this climate of fear. I began thinking about this a bit more and described it to my significant other as this incredible ability to re-frame our current situation.

To be clear, I am not talking about ignoring dying people or suffering communities. It is imperative we each try to help in our own way. This could be through donation to those in need or through self isolation. Nor should we ignore our own pain and difficulties during this time. It’s important to acknowledge, while I am not suffering from the fear of not making rent, dealing with the loss of a loved one, or not having enough to survive, many are. These direct stresses are real and should not only be acknowledged individually but as a community. I want to suggest an idea in the vein of Acceptance Commitment Therapy. We need to accept our current situation with all the difficulties it presents. But not to dwell on the issues if they aren’t immediately important. Lose the pre-stress for events which may never happen! We each need to have confidence in our abilities to solve whatever problems come our way when they get here not before. After shifting my mental thought process, I felt as though I was presented with opportunities not just perpetual suffering.

While a mental perspective change may not initially seem like it does very much for us. We are still living in the same area, around the same environment. It gives us an opportunity to change our thoughts, emotions, and habits. These ultimately govern how we think of each day and what decisions we make. Personally I have begun to take risks in my cooking; I made Pad Thai for the first time. I go on walks much more often, I have longer and more frequent conversations with my friends and have more time to work on side projects I was too stressed to cover before. We may not be in control of what will happen tomorrow, but we are in control of how we live today.

In this time of suffering we must support each other and spread ideas that empower us, not just remind each other that more people are infected today than yesterday. Our current way of life is temporary so, like my mother, I want to make the most of it.

We need to spread our resources to help those who are in direct need. For those who are in immediate suffering and don’t have solutions I’ve provided some resources which I think can help:

SNAP

Suicide Prevention

Unemployment