Annakeara Stinson
March 31, 2020 6:59 pm
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As new information shifting the course of our lives arrives every day, it’s natural to feel fear and anxiety. From being quarantined to seeing our cities on full lockdowns to  practicing social distancing, we’re in an unprecedented moment in the world because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. And because everything feels so unstable during this time, people across the world are learning how to handle stress through using various coping mechanisms.

Sometimes a healthy coping mechanism can just be that one thing that makes all the difference when the going gets rough, whether it’s baking every night, masturbating, taking up knitting, or meme-ing.

Right now, women all over the globe are working hard to maintain a semblance of calm and sanity while getting through this tough time. “One reason this pandemic is so emotionally difficult to process is because not [a lot of people have] been through this before,” Mississippi-based counselor Dea Dean tells HelloGiggles. “Our brains are wired to assess our environment, look for patterns, and evaluate and predict possible outcomes to ensure our safety and survival. We don’t have an experiential frame of reference to measure our actual level of threat in this situation and the result is uncertainty, confusion, and fear. ”

The good news is you are not alone in feeling this way, Dean says. In the midst of this chaos, it is comforting to know that we don’t have to go far to find understanding and a sense of community from our family, neighbors, and even strangers every day. “We can help ourselves manage the ‘what ifs,’ of tomorrow by grounding ourselves to the presence of today,” Dean says.

We connected with 10 women to hear what things have helped them get through life in the time of COVID-19.

Going to digital AA meetings

“I’m sober and doing AA meetings every day online. It’s a small space where I can share openly and honestly about my experiences. I feel emotionally supported by the group, and it’s something that can actually connect me with other people, even strangers, during this time of isolation [that’s] not my family.”

-Scotty, 34, mother

Writing gratitude lists

“[I’ve been] making a gratitude list. Especially during times like now where you feel like everything is oppressively shitty and you’re struggling to count any blessings, let alone see a silver lining. For those who aren’t familiar, it’s a practice of focusing on small, immediate things you’re grateful for.

[Also, it’s important to] focus on what’s around you. Are you in your house or apartment? (You are physically safe). Are you drinking a cup of delicious coffee? (You have access to sustenance). Did you just get off the phone with a good friend and go from sobbing uncontrollably to gently crying softly into your pillow? (You have support).” 

-Alana, 31, editor and writer at MEL Magazine

Temporialy moving to another state

“I left NYC and went to Vermont where my parents live. My sister and I rented a cabin on an orchard to be quarantined for two weeks before we see them, so I’ve been taking walks and cooking, [firing] up the grill; [taking] Instagram live dance classes with a hot woman, which was extra motivating; [and] puzzling. And I also have finally been using my Criterion Collection streaming subscription, so I am trying to think of that like homework. Fun homework.”

-Jude (they), writer, IndieWire

Teaching writing to kids online

“I did a little creative writing workshop for some friend’s kids via Google Hangouts, which was nice. And, my sibling is channeling anxiety through cooking, and I’m the beneficiary. So I guess more broadly, [I’m] eating and doing a lot of work. I’m also FaceTiming with friends and their babies.”

-Rachel, writer

Making small goals

“This was something I started before being in isolation, but I was going through a rough time last summer and I signed up for a half marathon… I set a goal for myself I was sure I was able to accomplish, and then I gave myself three months to ready for it. I made a schedule to work on it. I gave myself small goals to work toward a big goal. The exercise, achievement, and being able to track my progress helped, so did just listening to music and podcasts, [which helped me] get out of my head… Incremental progress towards a goal that you can measure and feel proud of is helpful. And especially now, even better if it’s something that clears your head.”

-Ellen, consultant

HelloGiggles

Watching TV and movies

“My coping mechanisms [have always] all TV-related, and they still are right now. Rewatching Lost got me through my mom dying. Rewatching Real Housewives of Beverly Hills from the start is getting through my breakup. And I have been watching a movie every night with people I’m quarantined with right now. We’ve chosen themes and we read about the history of the film. It feels grounding to have a routine.”

-Natalie, 30

Meditating every day

“It can be hard to sit with your own thoughts, especially when the world is so uncertain. But I meditate every day so that when things are getting particularly tough I have stability and mental clarity. I’m going through a breakup right now, and it’s what’s keeping me sane.

Also, practicing yoga, even for a few minutes first thing in the morning makes me aware of my body, gets me out of my head, and allows me to acknowledge how stress manifests in my muscles.”

-Nora, 29, writer

Wearing cozy clothes

“Wearing cozy house shoes. They represent a treat to me, something that I wouldn’t normally buy because in some ways, they’re not necessary, and these were rather expensive. But walking around the house, I feel elevated and comforted by their support. I feel more purpose with each step. I would say during these times, being as cozy and comfortable as you can be while you’re inside is really important. It helps when everything feels so uncertain.”

-Susannah, 29, actress

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Smoking weed and making spreadsheets

“I smoke weed to get through tough times; it’s better for me personally than other substances. And as for right now, I’ve been making spreadsheets—I went into full spreadsheet mode the other night with my friends of all the recommendations of movies and things to do while we aren’t. It felt comforting and soothing. It’s also a group activity.”

-Roseanna, 35

Connecting with other people creatively

“I’ve just started a project with friends of mine, where we sort of track how we’re feeling every day. We talk and journal about self-care and the types of things that are getting us through this. For me, it’s making art. I’m making a lot of art.”

-Cara, 39, graphic designer