We've officially hit the 12-month mark of the coronavirus pandemic. For any life-changing event, a year is an important marker of time, so it makes sense that people in the U.S. would be experiencing a mix of emotions this month. This time last year, many of us were packing up our desks at the office, unaware of how much the pandemic would alter our everyday lives. The transition to working from home and quarantining in-place got off to a rough start, and for some of us, it didn't offer much time to adjust to the new normal.

Anniversaries, good or bad, can be emotional triggers, so it's important to be kind to ourselves and others this March especially. We've experienced a lot of loss and grief over the past year, so it's very natural for anxiety-levels to ramp up. Though it seems like the light is at the end of the tunnel, we're all still trying our best to make it through this pandemic in good health, physically and mentally. 

For those who need a little guidance, try these five methods to help cope with your pandemic anniversary this month and beyond:

Set aside time for self-care.

Self-care practices are just as crucial to your mental state as is any other daily routine. This could include a plethora of things such as exercising, reading, eating better, getting enough sleep, pampering yourself, and so forth. Rest, and relaxation can work wonders for your stress levels, so know that it's okay to take time out for yourself outside of work and social interactions with co-workers, partners, friends, and family.

Reflect in a journal.

If you've been holding in any negative feelings over the last year, it's crucial you let them out. A journal is a great alternative to let those thoughts out on pen and paper for those who are quarantined alone and don't have anyone to speak to directly. Journaling allows us to be introspective with our thoughts and deeply reflect on what may be unknown. If you don't know how to start journaling, look up a few productive prompts to get your mind moving, then let your feelings flow.

Take a break from social media.

Social media use has become so hyper-focused over the last year; it's hard to escape COVID-19 and the rest of the world's tragic events. Although these apps are the key ways we've been able to keep in touch with one another throughout quarantine, it can still be overwhelming with traumatic information. Try limiting your time on social media or even deleting the apps off of your phone entirely for a few weeks just to let your brain take a break. It can offer a refreshing outlook on life and allow more time to tune into what's happening in the world around you.

Acknowledge and process your grieving emotions.

Grieving is a natural emotion, and with as much loss as we've all experienced, it's more than warranted to allow yourself to feel your way through the pain. For many of us, it can be uncomfortable to be that vulnerable in our mental states, but it's necessary for healing to occur. Whether you're feeling angry, sad, irritable, or apathetic, acknowledge those emotions as they are happening so you can take that weight off of your heart.

Distract yourself with a new hobby.

Avoiding your feelings isn't the solution, but sometimes it's helpful to discover a new hobby that can take your mind off of life's stress for awhile. Having an outlet to express yourself not only gives you a reason to smile, but it also gives you time to spend with yourself and understand what makes you happy. Whether you start a collection, take a class to pick up a new skill, or simply tap back into a good habit you forgot about, finding new hobbies is a great way to keep you motivated and inspired.

quarantinecovid-19mental healthself care