How are you coping in the face of the pandemic? Are you glued to the news? Are you stocking up on supplies? Are you feeling the stress of it all?
While many may argue that keeping up with the news on an hourly basis is the responsible thing to do, I believe that taking in too much information is not suitable for our mental health.
Researchers, therapists, and even the CDC are on my side. Mental health professionals see the toll this ongoing stress is taking on not only those on the front lines but also on those of us sheltered in place, responsible for families, or living on our own. As the pandemic continues, isolation, unanswered questions, and understandable fear are wreaking havoc on our mental states.
Coping With The Stress
Thankfully there are several simple things you can do to lower your stress levels and improve your outlook and mental health.
- Take breaks from the news, social media, and other channels talking about the pandemic. Limit the time you spend on social platforms.
- Schedule video conference calls with family and friends. Zoom is an excellent free service for this purpose.
- Eat healthy foods, exercise, and take care of your physical yourself. Take showers and get dressed in something other than pajamas.
- Journal, meditate, and honestly face your feelings to work through how you are genuinely feeling.
- Engage your family in a project or activity – watch a movie, walk the dog, get outside, or work in the garden, for example.
- Pick up a hobby or craft and engage other friends and family to do the same. Of course, I’m partial to needle felting!
Picking Up the Needles and Wool
Even though I have a good habit around working on my needle felting projects, I too have been struggling with developing a “new normal” for my family and me. With our farm and my business, I’m comfortable being home, yet everything feels a little “off.” Yet rather than allow myself to get drawn into the coverage, I am consciously shifting and allowing my needle felting to be my therapy.
When I sit down to my needle felting pillow, needles, and wool, the texture of it all is what grounds me immediately. Just the feel of those simple items in my hands is soothing and meditative, and I’m reminded why I enjoy it so much.
Lately, I’ve even been a little nostalgic, remembering when I was starting out and learning from the Woolly Women. The fibers engaged my senses, and I was forever hooked (pun intended!). I also remember how I had to pick up all the little things I wanted for a project, which is why I developed my kits. And of course, I fell in love with the wool first.
Once I was up and going, I wanted to share my new obsession with others, so I began teaching. We are in such a remarkable time when online learning is so accessible, and now people are meeting in videoconferences – what a fun way to be in community with others!
When life gets too stressful, I urge you to take to your needles and wool and let the world fall away. Give your nervous system a break and do something to feed your soul. We will all get through this, and many of us with many more needle felted animals!
Some Positive News
The news isn’t all dire. Stories of big and small heroism surface every day as people pitch in and show compassion in extraordinary ways. Also, research found that out of difficult times, up to 70% of people “experience positive psychological growth.” Signs of this growth include increased empathy and desire to do good, more significant appreciation for loved ones and a more profound sense of purpose. Here’s hoping something good comes out of this situation!
A Personal Note
I want to take a moment to thank everyone for working so tirelessly on the frontlines of this pandemic. From the first responders to medical personnel, to everyone involved in treating the sick and dying, THANK YOU! To those essential workers who are still doing their jobs in the face of this threat, THANK YOU! To the families of these amazing men and women, THANK YOU for raising and supporting such incredible people! To all those making masks and giving of their time and money, THANK YOU! Take care of yourself and stay safe!