As we’ve noted previously, this pandemic has damaged much of the basic equipment we use to lead a happy life. The ability to congregate — at sport or concerts, films or galleries or places of worship — is gone, and with it our ability to plan for anything much beyond work and the next trip to the supermarket.
If we’re lucky, this is all it has taken.
If we are not, we’ve lost our livelihood or, worse still, the virus has taken loved ones and irrevocably complicated the process of grieving. We don’t know if, or when, this state will pass. And we don’t know when we’ll know.
How then to endure the unendurable? We’ve collected some of the best writing on the psychology of the lockdown, and places to find hope:
It’s normal to feel anxiety right now, and while we need to allow ourselves the space to feel these feelings, we also need to give ourselves the space to let them go … A virus can invade our bodies, but we get to decide whether we let it invade our minds.Dear Therapist’s guide to staying sane during a pandemic, The Atlantic
Research on the effects of epidemics and sieges, along with the emerging body of knowledge about the coronavirus, hint at what the coming months may look like.
Our ability to focus, to feel comfortable around others, even to think more than a few days into the future, may diminish — with lasting consequences. But we may also feel the tug of a survival instinct that can activate during periods of widespread peril: a desire to cope by looking out for one’s neighbours.What will our new normal feel like? Hints are beginning to emerge, The New York Times
‘Create as much structure and predictability as you can with the pieces of your life that you do have control over,’ [clinical psychologist John] Vincent says. Pursue neglected projects, get on with life, but also be patient with yourself — both now and when this strange time eventually ends.What coronavirus isolation could do to your mind (and body), Wired
In her book Ten Minutes to Happiness, Sandi Mann, a lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire, advocates keeping a daily journal. Her strategy is based on ‘positive psychology’ — a well-established area of psychology that suggests we can improve our mood by focusing on the small things that bring happiness to us each day.Tips for how to stay happy in troubling times, BBC Future
In both Afghanistan and Syria, [political scientist Dipali Mukhopadhyay had] seen people refocus their energy from individual survival to that of the community, forming bonds of cooperation and mutual support that are beginning to emerge in places like New York as well.
‘All the different ways that people create solidarity in a crisis get activated,’ she said. People make sacrifices for the community and look out for neighbours because it feels necessary — is necessary — and because it’s one thing they can actually control.’Enduring our unendurable new normal, The New York Times
Start small: don’t text your friend immediately the next time you need an answer to a question. Go on a hike without checking the weather beforehand. As you build your tolerance-of-uncertainty muscle, you can work to reduce the number of times a day you consult the internet for updates on the outbreak.Seven science-based strategies to cope with coronavirus anxiety, The Conversation