Authored by Dr. Michelle Murray on April 23, 2020

We seem to be in this phase of in-between time – the lingering phase that follows the immediate emergency of COVID-19, but precedes a return to normalcy, however “normal” is defined.

It is starting to sink in that the changes we are currently living under, changes that are having a large impact on our social, economic, family, and professional lives, may extend many months into the future.

For those whose basic life needs – food, shelter and health - are being affected, it is a hard time to focus on anything else. What matters most, is to continue to reach out to community organizations and personal networks that can help you survive, as until your basic needs are met, it is difficult to feel safe.

If you are among the fortunate and your basic living needs are still being met, this time can feel unbearable because you are not yet used to this different way of life. You are still longing for what you were experiencing just a few weeks ago. You haven’t found your new rhythm while at the same time, there is is uncertainty about the future, which adds to feeling unsettled.

Here are just a few basic tips you can implement to help you use the in-between time to your advantage and recognize the beauty along the way. Once you are on the other side of this pandemic, your life will feel enriched, and you might even be thankful for going through this crisis:

  1. Start an Enjoyment Journal. Everyday write down at least 2 things that you enjoyed that day that you were only able to experience because of this new way of life.
  2. Identify one bad habit you want to change. Remember that in order to change a habit you must replace the bad with something good. As well, your focus needs to be on what you will do rather than on what you won’t do. Don’t tell yourself you are going to cut back to one cup of coffee a day, rather, tell yourself you are going to drink water for the rest of the day after your first cup of coffee.
  3. Identify something new you will learn. Learn something new or start doing something you have never done but always thought about doing, like a new hobby or skill. Develop a plan to learn about that thing and if possible, start to  implement your plan.
  4. Start to practice a new, positive behavior toward yourself or your loved one. Do it every day, even if it feels forced. Slowly dedicate more time toward this positive behavior or action so it becomes part of your daily or weekly life.
  5. Identify one thing every week you have discovered about yourself, your family, your work or your community. Write these things down so you can refer to them if you forget.
  6. Identify at least one gap you have noticed in your life. Perhaps this is a gap with your family, or your work that you have learned specifically because of this pandemic. Identify a possible solution you can implement now or post-pandemic to address this gap. Write these observations down so you can refer to your ideas later.

Nexus Family Healing is a national nonprofit mental health organization that restores hope for thousands of children and families who come to us for outpatient/community mental health services, foster care and adoption, and residential treatment. For over 45 years, our network of agencies has used innovative, personalized approaches to heal trauma, break cycles of harm, and reshape futures. We believe every child is worth it — and every family matters. Learn more at nexusfamilyhealing.org.