Covid 19 has stirred up intense emotions for many folks. Whether you’re experiencing fear, anxiety, anger, depression, feelings of loss, or other emotions, it can be hard to find your emotional balance in the midst of this pandemic. Let’s discuss emotions during Covid 19.
It’s very easy to escape uncomfortable emotions via unconscious coping mechanisms. My hope is that after you read this, you’ll be aware of your potential coping mechanisms – the first step to becoming emotionally empowered and taking control of your emotions during trying times.
Common Coping Mechanisms
Let’s highlight some of the more common coping mechanisms.
This is a soothing coping mechanism. It’s designed make you feel satiated when you otherwise feel stressed, sad, bored or some variation or combination of these.
We want to feel good, naturally, so it makes sense – especially in gluttonous country, like America – that folks will reach for food when they feel emotionally uncomfortable or unbalanced. The problem is when this becomes a constant go-to solution for any emotional discomfort. The excessive calories will inevitably compound, resulting in weight gain and/or poorer health. This is because emotional eating is not rational and engaged in for nutrition and fuel-for-the-body purposes; on the contrary, many people who emotionally eat are not fully aware that this is what’s happening, and often the food consumed is high in refined sugar, simple carbohydrates, salt, and unhealthy fats, usually termed “comfort” or “junk” foods.
Emotional eating leads to physical and then often further emotional repercussions wherein the emotional eater then feels guilty or shameful of the weight gain and undesirable changes to their body. Then, the cycle becomes vicious – because in order to cope with those emotions, the emotional eater then eats more, as they’ve trained themself to reach for unhealthy food when they don’t feel well emotionally.
Personal note: I’ve been down this path more than once. You may overcome it once or twice, but the issue is that you’ve already established the neural pathways to crave and cave to the emotional eating when you don’t feel optimal. It will take an extreme amount of patience, determination, and application to create new, stronger, and more desirable neural pathways. If you are an emotional eater, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of accountability and vulnerability to overcome emotional eating. You simply won’t break free from emotional eating without these crucial changes to your lifestyle. Please join the free community on this site and join the Emotional Eating forum. It’s a small step, but one with potentially large payout for you in the future.
Excessive Alcohol Consumption
This coping mechanism knows no borders. Alcohol is widely available, geographically speaking. This coping mechanism is designed to numb emotional pain.
Alcohol has no nutritional benefit in and of itself, and in fact, can damage your liver and contribute to the risk of diabetes. This is in addition to potential weight gain, and poorer life decisions when alcohol is consumed in excess.
Alcohol, in and of itself, is not “bad”. It’s how much you consume and how you operate while having alcohol in your system that determines whether or not alcohol is “good or bad” for you.
If you can’t go a day, let alone a week, without consuming alcohol, or if you always reach for alcohol during times of emotional discomfort, you fit in this category. Similar to emotional eaters, alcoholics may feel shame or guilt about their dependency which in turn prompts them to drink more alcohol.
Alcoholism does require professional help to address and overcome. If you struggle, or know someone who struggles, with alcohol dependency, please search for professional help in your area. Alcoholics Anonymous is a great resource.
This is a modern day issue with the advent of streaming content and the bottomless content pit that is the internet. This coping mechanism is designed to escape unpleasant feelings and boredom.
No wonder that with Covid 19 streaming consumption was at an all-time high with stay-at-home orders, quarantines, and lock-downs. There’s other activities that could be engaged in aside from streaming: cleaning, cooking, exercising, having conversations, reading books, self-reflecting, learning and practicing new skills, learning another language, etc.. Those who prefer to endlessly stream content during their time at home have a high probability of avoiding their feelings.
Aside from the fact that staring at a screen all day is not good for your eye health, and likely not good for your physical health if you are sedentary during long sessions of binging content, these folks are training themselves to let others influence their thoughts instead of being intentional about where they focus their intention.
While poor money management can result in impulsive spending, so can the unconscious desire for immediate gratification. Spending money to receive a good or service can light up dopamine receptors in the brain, a quick way to feel a type of neurochemical induced high. This particular coping mechanism can be developed or magnified when one unconsciously desires to alter their moods toward a euphoric state.
The problem is not wanting to feel good but the impulsiveness of the actions and the repercussions of the actions, such as spending more money than one has, or spending money when one should save it for an emergency or to pay off debt.
Some surveys of American spending estimate that impulsive spending increased during Covid 19. This is not surprising given that Covid 19 stoked all sorts of unpleasant emotions, including fear and feelings of scarcity, which also contribute to impulsive spending.
Emotions During Covid 19
Of course, there are other forms of coping, such as an obsession with preoccupying oneself with unnecessary work (“workaholic”) or allowing oneself to become consumed by video games in lieu of self-reflection of emotional processing.
Dealing with your emotions during Covid 19
Certain emotions during Covid 19 can feel extreme, prolonged, and perhaps never-ending. It’s a tough time mentally and emotionally for a lot of folks – you’re not alone. The key takeaway when it comes to handling your emotions during Covid 19 is to not bury, deny, force, or otherwise avoid your emotions. You won’t be solving any problems this way, an in fact, you may create more problems. Your actions today contribute to the landscape your experiences tomorrow and in the future.
Yes, experiencing this seemingly continuous tidal wave of emotions during Covid 19 is rough. It may feel like you can’t catch your breath. But you can – remember to breathe. Above all, remember that you are an emotional being (that’s what makes humans, human).
If you’re still feeling overwhelmed, aim to practice patience, self-awareness, and self-love everyday. Practice identifying your emotions. Be kind to yourself.
Once you have a good grasp on identifying your emotions, work on managing your emotions.
If you’re ready to take control of your emotions and the reigns of your emotional-based behavior, please do join the free community on this site. Talking about it and making your emotional health a priority is the first step towards emotional empowerment.
Take care and love yourself.