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Lessons learned: What COVID-19 Has Taught Our Team – Part I

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As we go into month three of the pandemic, many of us may be taking a moment to look back at our experience, including our team. Here’s how COVID has taught our experts, and the coping strategies they’ve found most helpful.

What has COVID-19 taught you?

Dr. Khush Amaria:

  • I’m lucky
    We talked about why gratitude matters to keep ourselves grounded at times, emotionally well and resilient. I reminded myself often that I was safe, the people closet to me in life were safe and that I didn’t need to feel guilty about that – feeling guilty would not let me be helpful to others or help those who were suffering. I didn’t ignore the suffering and challenges for those around me, but hope my attitude for gratitude might help someone along the way. 
  • Humour matters
    I think of the times that I said to someone else “it took a pandemic for my husband or my kids to do ---then fill in the blanks” and then laughed out loud. If humour was an option, I tried to use it to help myself cope with how unbelievable everything going on in the world was. 
  • I don’t have to do it all, I don’t have to do it perfectly, and small successes matter.
    Rather than thinking about getting something big and really meaningful accomplished in my new schedule working from home with the kids around, I used the SMART goals idea – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based. For example, exercise at a gym was a big part of my pre-COVID life. Instead of thinking I could replicate that, I focused on a smart goal of trying to move every day – for about 30 minutes – sometimes that meant breaking a sweat and other times it did not. But it was relevant for me and helped with stress management. 
  • I can tolerate uncertainty
    I’ll admit I don’t like not knowing. I like to plan. I like to know what to expect, and I like to have control when possible. COVID has taught me that I can get better at tolerating uncertainty. And I can model this for others who are having a harder time with it. I’ve had plenty of opportunities to practise tolerating uncertainty and even being proud of my newfound ability to do so! 
  • Finally, the last one might seem ironic, but I used Stronger Minds
    I read the different contributions. I thought about how I could use or adapt for my life – whether it was mindfulness something I was never very good at, or the content on relationships given I am not a couples therapist. Every time I did read or watch a video, I walked away with another idea to relieve stress and build resilience.

Dr. Meredith Landy:

  • That I was capable of learning to live in the moment.
  • I could lower expectations of myself and it would turn out well. 
  • I love working from home. 
  • I can get up to exercise early in the morning if I don’t also have to rush out the door to be somewhere.

Dr. Jennifer Carey:

  • I can handle more than I thought I could… but not without tears, pain, laughter and at least seven hours of sleep.

 

What did you discover was your most effective coping strategy?

Dr. Meredith Landy:
Checking in with myself to make sure I am living a life that is consistent with my values.

Dr. Jennifer Carey:
For me, what has helped me tremendously is to stop comparing everything I am experiencing and doing now to how things were “before.”

In the first few weeks, my mind would almost inevitably think of how the current circumstances compared to before. That comparison inevitably led to me highlighting lack and loss, which didn’t help anything. By taking the new circumstances on their own, I have been more able to appreciate certain aspects that were hidden by my earlier comparisons. That doesn’t mean I don’t ever still make comparisons to before, but I work hard not to dwell on those thoughts.

 

A time for reflection
As we step into phase 2, it’s a good time to reflect on what you’ve learned, and use those insights as you move forward. What has COVID taught you? Have you been surprised by what you’ve learned about yourself? What works for you to get through hard times? Jot it down, or start a discussion with friends.

Here’s how COVID has taught our experts, and the coping strategies they’ve found most helpful.

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