As the crisis continues, feelings of hopelessness may strengthen. Those feelings are ultimately related to time. We may see no way out of the pandemic. We might imagine endlessly living under the threat of this virus.
Informed by that, I’ve focused on managing my relationship to time. The most important thing is not looking too far ahead. This has been a challenge; I am constantly planning and looking forward. At the beginning of the pandemic, I often googled predictions about how long it would last. But I soon realized that those predictions are constantly shifting. Trying to find the answer to an unanswerable question was a recipe for hopelessness.
I try to remind myself that researchers, scientists and other people who know what they’re doing are on the case. When they have information that requires action from the general population, they will update us. Wondering how long this will last isn’t going to speed up time. It will only cause negative feelings. Like many of us learned when we first got sober, even if we didn’t do it through AA: one day at a time.
I also focus on how I use my time. I’ve had to learn a balance between getting enough done to feel okay and allowing myself space to just be and process the crisis. I personally need to feel productive with creative endeavors for my mental health. But I also try to leave swaths of time open to do nothing. “Doing nothing” looks different to everyone. For some, it may be watching TV. For others watching TV may be the activity that best distracts them.
Finding ways to distract yourself with activities completely divorced from the pandemic will be useful. The less hours of the day you’re stressed about the crisis, the better for your mental health. Plus, time goes by faster that way. I try to use time as a tool for fighting hopelessness instead of creating hopelessness. This doesn’t mean falling into the trap of trying to write a novel, or whatever else you’re seeing on social media about productivity during a global pandemic. It means viewing time as something I have the power to fill in whatever ways will get me through this hard period.
This may seem counterintuitive to staying in the moment, but I try to keep in mind that this will end. When you’re feeling hopeless, it can be hard to remember that. It might even help to make a mantra out of it, something simple like, “This is not forever.” There is a future beyond the pandemic. We just have to get through the present, taking the best care of our mental health we can.
If you are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder during this crisis, TruHealing Centers is open and here for you. Our facilities across the country are receiving hospital-grade sanitization to make sure you are safe getting treatment. We will empower you with the tools you need to thrive in long-term recovery. Call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.