I don’t know about you, but recently I’ve been feeling more “down” than normal this past week. I’ve been trying to identify why I’ve been feeling this way, like it might be a change in my classes causing me more stress or my diet changing recently with having to rely on more canned foods than fresh produce due to the snowstorms in the northeastern United States. I couldn’t identify what’s been affecting me, so like any denizen of the internet, I decided to search and see if others are experiencing the same problem as me. Sure enough, I found a Huffington Post article by Julia Ries explaining what’s been affecting me perfectly, and it’s that article I want to share today.

If you’re like me and feeling like you’re losing motivation to keep moving forward and press against the mental wall that is the coronavirus pandemic, you’re not alone. As we near the year anniversary since the world began shutting down due to the spread of COVID-19 it is dawning on a lot of us how long we’ve been in this fight for (especially since we tend to view years as the longest “normal” measurement of time besides decades). As the author of the Huffington Post article suggests, our emotional response to the pandemic and the stress it has caused us has begun to feel overwhelming with its consistency. Even with vaccinations taking place en masse and cases dipping down below 100k for the first time in months, we’re not able to resume the daily lives we once lived.

I also partly suspect that it’s due to spring being on the horizon. Typically, around this time of year, when the weather gets warmer and plants return to give bright color to the world again, we want to go out and do things. We want to eat outdoors and see friends and family and take vacations away from home. The problem though is that the pandemic is still raging on and we’re having to stay indoors and continue to socially isolate. After being cooped up at home for nearly a year it’s only natural to want to leave the nest and explore the world we dearly miss once more. Especially now that seasons are shifting from colder to warmer, it may also be linked to something like seasonal affective disorder (SAD) where one’s energy and emotions are affected by the changing seasons. With depression and anxiety-related conditions on the rise during the pandemic according to the Center for Disease Control, it’s likely that we’re all feeling a little under the weather in more ways than one.

So, you might be thinking, what are the next steps? What can I do to get myself up and out of bed in the mornings (or afternoons!) feeling more ready to tackle the day ahead? Well, there are many options, but I’d like to share some that I’ve been utilizing recently.

The first one is having a little notebook. In this notebook I jot down my daily tasks and thoughts that pop into my head. Do I need to take a midterm later in the week? I’ll jot down that I should take some time to study today. What about wanting to treat myself with a meal out? I’ll write that I should think about doing so and consider where I can get from that won’t break my wallet. Or maybe I’m feeling in a writing mood; in that case I’ll write down that I should let my creativity flow and write a short story! There are so many things to write down, but that little notebook does two things. First off, it gives you a task list to work on throughout the day that is adaptable to what’s on your agenda that day. With that task list you can then feel good at the end of the day knowing that you worked hard to tackle those tasks and complete them. Those little accomplishments add up and make me feel better that I’m doing something productive each day that I can then look back on to remind myself that I am doing well.

The second thing I’ve been doing recently is talking more to friends and family. During our daily pre-pandemic lives we were always so busy and overburdened with commuting to and from work (in addition to all the fun we were having on the weekends!). With the extra free time I’ve been having throughout my days I’ve decided to catch up with some old work friends from an internship two years ago and I’ve had some success in reconnecting with them! These days it feels impossible to see people, but even texting them or phone calling people near and dear to us can scratch that social itch that we naturally have as human beings.

If you genuinely are having difficulties, though, I think the best option you can take advantage of is sitting down with someone you can open up to and talk with. I talk about finding the right mental state for improving mental health in another post of mine, so if you feel like you’re ready to see a professional who can be there to talk to you about what you’re going through, then there’s no better time than now to start looking. Due to the pandemic, many therapists have been converting to online services, and the therapists at Airapy.io are there for you to take advantage of. I highly recommend checking out their services if you feel the need to speak to someone; easy scheduling, affordable pricing, and secure online counseling make Airapy.io the best place to start to find online counselors. As a bonus, once most of the population of the United States becomes vaccinated and businesses can begin opening up again, those same therapists may also be able to meet at coffee shops or private office locations too.

Hang in there. We’re getting near the end of the pandemic.