The arrival of the new year brought with it a feeling of great hope, but the truth is that we are still a long way from returning to normal. The renewed wave of confinement and restrictions across Europe forced a return, in force, to telecommuting, video calls with friends, meetings in the zoom, among other technologies to keep working and stay connected with family and friends.
This confinement we now live in, although similar to the one we lived in a year ago, turns out to be different, for several reasons. From the outset, because the risk of infection is now much higher, both for us and for family and friends, and the anxiety and stress caused by the pandemic and by confinement are different. For many families, the number of factors that increase this same stress is greater, especially for those who experience the disease, are faced with situations of unemployment, live with financial difficulties or who have to reconcile teleworking with childcare minors or other family members.
The fatigue we feel from the pandemic fatigue is normal and affects a large number of Portuguese people, as well as the psychological impacts of the first confinement and the crisis, pandemic and socioeconomic situation we are facing. In the first confinement, our effort and sacrifice were fueled by the hope of positive results and by the feeling of “mission” that united us all. In this second confinement, although we also expect positive results, it is natural to also feel greater distrust and less motivation towards a future that seems uncertain, especially due to the results of the first confinement, which seem to us a failure and ended up forcing us to return to home, and the restrictions imposed to fight the pandemic prevent us from returning to a normal life.
Although this is the second time that we have gone through this forced “closing”, there are feelings, such as anguish, anger or impotence, which, although rarely used in normal times, turn out to be natural in times of pandemic and confinement. It is also natural to have some doubts about how we are going to overcome this phase or some frustration for not being able to implement some plans and projects that are still pending. It is therefore essential to find a way, on the various levels, emotional, relational and personal, to counteract these feelings.
Given that there is little each of us can do to influence how quickly this pandemic will end, it is important to learn to live with it. We must therefore be aware of our emotions, thoughts and feelings, and remember that some fluctuation in our mood and motivation is natural, as well as accepting these same fluctuations. This being the second time we’ve been through confinement, better or worse, we know we can handle the situation and we already have strategies for it. For example, taking it one day at a time, being focused on the now, not having big worries about what we can’t control, and using humor to overcome less good times.
In addition to the emotional level, which we have already talked about, it will also be important to pay some attention to relationships. Confinement means only physical isolation and we must not allow it to turn into emotional isolation as well. Relationships with others are the most important part of our life, this is a reality that has not changed and we must, at this stage, even from a distance, strengthen these relationships, express our affections and share what we feel and how we are.