My mother-in-law was exposed to someone with COVID-19 while visiting the hospital to seek treatment for an injury. Up until now, I’ve felt quite removed from the pandemic, besides the effect on my work. This incident has made everything very real and I’m scared. Today I’ve just had bouts of crying for no reason and I can’t stay focused.
First of all, sending good wishes to your mother-in-law. We hope she’s safe!
When it comes to your reaction to this incident, it’s important to remember that it’s normal – probably even expected – given how close to home the pandemic has become for you recently.
When we’re faced with scary experiences, we can react in many different ways – including crying often, having trouble staying focused and catastrophizing about the future (i.e., thinking only about the worst-case scenarios). Remember that strong emotions are not dangerous, and when we can accept them, we have a better chance of working on them.
This isn’t the time to be judging yourself for feeling removed from the pandemic so far – rather, reframe this as a sign that you could adapt well to your individual circumstances. This is a strength!
Find the time to focus on your self-care and ramp up those healthy strategies we described in the early days of COVID.
We encourage some self-compassion – and you might want to practice challenging your thinking. For example, you aren’t crying for “no reason.” You’re crying because you’re scared – and it’s OK to be scared right now. Totally normal.
Focus on what you’re scared of – some of your worries are probably hypothetical and not real. There’s no point in trying to solve those types of worries right now. Instead, put your attention to what you can control today.
Finally, when you have trouble focusing, relaxation activities like using the art of mindfulness and simply just taking a break to refocus on a smaller task, can help.
This isn’t the time to be judging yourself.