Don’t Let Social Media Fool You — You Aren’t the Only One Having a Hard Time Right Now

Don’t Let Social Media Fool You — You Aren’t the Only One Having a Hard Time Right Now


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April 19, 2024 at 6:21AM UTC

About a week ago, I had a revelation — namely, that my desperate attempts to achieve some semblance of normalcy during life under COVID had perhaps worked too well. 

All the Zooms. The socially distant park meetups with friends, during which we’ll use blankets as a sort of measuring tape, ensuring that we’re sitting six-feet apart. The degree to which masks have entered my psyche, to the point that when dreaming, subconscious-me has seen folks walking about maskless and panicked. The fact that when I try to think about what the future holds, projecting more than a month ahead feels impossible.

These are all elements of “new normal” life that had started to feel, well, normal, at least to some degree. We humans are an intensely adaptable species, and the past several months have necessitated no shortage of adaptations. For some, there may be a vague sense that your job, your family or your social life has demanded this elasticity of you. We all talked about how hard things felt, for a while. But then at some point — that project still needs completing. The kid's birthday party, albeit a modified version, still needs to be planned. We have to figure out ways of grinning and bearing it. Right?

Well, sure. But it struck me during a recent virtual happy hour, as people fished about for benign updates to relay and I smilingly received them, that I was actively holding myself back from saying: “Can we please just pause for a moment to acknowledge that life is still totally, completely, utterly bonkers??”

Things aren’t normal. They are so NOT normal! And they won’t be for some time yet to come. Yes, it’s important that we develop rhythms that allow us to cope with the ongoing nature of this crisis and the extent to which our lives have changed. But we can do that while still holding space for the fact that things are, simply, not normal. And despite the degree it can feel like others, as seen on social media, are holding up perfectly well and moving forward with their lives, let this be a moment for you to remind yourself: 

It’s OK to not feel OK right now. 

For several folks I know, the five-month mark of this pandemic is hitting differently. With wishes of “maybe this will all be temporary” behind us, as we look toward an increasingly unfathomable future, a lot of us are being hit anew with anxiety and uncertainty. If you, too, are one of those people, take a moment. Let yourself breathe. And make a point of working into your day one of the mini self-care rituals below.

9 self-care ideas for when you can’t pretend the world isn’t bonkers:

1. Move your body.

Take a walk. Dance in your living room. Go on a bike ride. Do some yoga. Now that we’re this deep into the pandemic, waking up early for a two-hour walk may feel less novel and less, well, desirable. But make sure that you’re not setting exercise aside altogether. 

2. Make some fruit-infused water.

For starters, it just looks nice in a glass pitcher. For seconds, staying hydrated is always such a glib-sounding piece of advice that is, in fact, key! 

3. Write out a helpful mantra for yourself, and put it somewhere you can see it.

Which could also mean setting it as your phone background!

4. Dress up.

My roommate is continuing to wear a new (to me) dress every day. It’s a bit perplexing (is her closet in our Brooklyn apartment actually Mary Poppins’ bag?), but it’s also a lovely way of showing yourself some care. 

5. Instead of the news, start your day with a playlist you love.

Staying up-to-date is important — but so is giving your mind room to breathe. Let the first thing you consume in a day be something that makes you feel good.

6. Watch back-to-back episodes of “Golden Girls.”

Or whatever your go-to comfort show is.

7. Write a letter.

And buy stamps from the USPS to send them with! Like, a lot of stamps!

8. Talk to a therapist. 

Don’t have one? Now’s a great time to change that? Psychology Today’s Therapy Finder allows you to lets you search for therapists who offer their services on a sliding scale.

9. Unplug.

Like, completely unplug. Take a mental health day from work if you need to. We’re all still dealing with an inordinate amount of stress, and no amount of positive thinking will change that. If you’re not feeling your best – it makes total sense you wouldn’t be! Try not to force expectations on yourself for how you’ll feel  ("I won't let this get to me," etc.), and be generous with yourself instead. 

Things will get better. But in the meantime — it is all still so bonkers. Let's not pretend it isn't.

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