How to manage disappointment in the face of Covid-19 variants, continued restrictions, and uncertainty
Things were looking hopeful this summer that we might soon return to some sense of normalcy. Then we learned about variants, hospital beds filled up, and many restrictions were reinstated or continued as a result. If you’ve found yourself feeling disappointed by this unexpected turn of events, you’re not alone. Many folks have struggled with this over recent months. How do we deal with disappointment, especially in a situation in which we have little personal control?
1. Acknowledge how you’re feeling
When working through any difficult emotion, we first have to acknowledge how we’re feeling. Acknowledge the disappointment and allow yourself to sit in the discomfort. This is an important part of processing. Denying ourselves the opportunity to feel our feelings can often cause more pain. You may even go through a grieving process here about some of the hopes you had had about returning to normalcy. Allow yourself to feel sad about canceled or rescheduled events.
2. Manage your expectations moving forward
We can’t predict the future. An important step in managing disappointment is working to mitigate some of your expectations. This doesn’t mean expecting the worst, however, it does mean being flexible in your hopes and plans. Unrealistic thoughts and concrete expectations set us up for disappointment. Thoughts like, “Things will be fully back to normal by November 15th” are likely to end in disappointment. Try replacing these thoughts with more realistic expectations or by asking yourself something like, “How can we make the best out of the situation we’re in?”
3. Make the best out of the situation
As with any situation that feels out of our control, we can either fight reality and wish for something different or we can accept that reality isn’t what we had hoped for and do what is in our control to make the best out of the situation. What are some things you can do? Can you get together with friends or family outside or in small groups? Can you find live streams of events that you’d like to watch? Can you spend time working on personal projects, taking a class in an interesting hobby, or exploring new interests?
4. Think about your own resiliency
Resiliency is the ability to recover from difficulties. How do you get through difficult times? How have you gotten through the pandemic so far? What activities, thoughts, or other skills do you have to help you through when life gets a little harder? What might you add to your existing toolbox? Take inventory of what you do already and give yourself credit for the skills you have. You’ve already gotten through a year and a half of a global pandemic! Keep doing what you’re already doing and add more if you need. Either increase your time with self-care activities or add more.
5. Seek additional support
Many folks are finding that their coping skills are being stretched thin and that they are needing to seek additional support at this point in the pandemic. Therapy is an excellent place to shore up existing coping skills and to learn additional ones. Many therapists continue to offer virtual sessions. Start by reaching out to your insurance company to find therapists in your area if you feel you need additional support.
Remember that disappointment is like a wave
Managing disappointment during the pandemic can be difficult and frustrating. But, disappointment is like a wave — ride it until it passes. By acknowledging the feelings you’re having, managing your expectations moving forward, making the best out of the situation, and remembering your own strength, you can endure many unexpected turns.