Within weeks the international landscape has turned our worlds upside down. Adjusting to any life change requires time and patience, but the COVID-19 crisis isn’t an experience anyone thought would occur, let alone require life changes. Trying to cope during a time where many people spend their time working, entertaining themselves, and living at home is a confining experience for many Americans. Fears of catching the virus, spreading it to at-risk loved ones, and accepting the possibility of long-term economic damage understandably puts people on edge. Every individual has unique circumstances that will affect the ways they cope with these issues. Still, certain coping mechanisms remain nearly universal for all individuals learning to adjust to a new way of living.
Recommendations from Minnesota Department of Health
The Minnesota Department of Health (“DHS”) recently released some guiding tools for a smoother transition into social distancing.
- Acknowledge how you personally react to stress and change and know how those reactions manifest themselves. Physical reactions including low energy, sleep problems, headaches, appetite changes, and increased heart rate. Emotional reactions include worry, fear, sadness, irritability, and helplessness. Behavioral reactions can include chemical dependence, gambling or other addictive behaviors, and relationship concerns. Cognitive reactions are especially common and often include a more limited ability to think clearly and loss of focus. When you know how you react, you can implement changes that specifically target those reactions.
- Integrating as much of your former routine into your new way of living now enhances your ability to remain calm. It can be tempting to remain in pajamas and spend extra time lounging when there are few or no expectations to be anywhere. Still, “getting ready” in the morning can help set a productive tone for the day.
- Eating a healthy diet, exercising, and minimizing alcohol use enhances physical and mental health. Although these recommendations seem obvious, they are particularly important when temptations are higher to consume foods and beverages that do encourage a healthy lifestyle.
Proactive Steps to Maintain Mental Health
Above all else, the best thing to do is validate for others and yourself that the world is experiencing a strange event, and know that it’s normal to experience unwanted thoughts and feelings. You can reduce the impact of these unwanted thoughts and feelings by establishing boundaries with technology. Find a balance between staying informed and overconsuming social media and the news. Know that it’s okay to temporarily turn off your devices to find some peace.
Next, it’s essential to know what you can control and what you can’t. Letting go of control is more easily said than done, so it may help to express your concern to another person or write it. Make lists for items in your control and out of your control for the specific concern. Thoughtfully considering your personal level of control reminds you that you may not be in charge of the outcome, but you can certainly influence it.
Finally, incorporating mindfulness techniques into daily life manages anxiety and stress. “Mindfulness” defined as “paying attention to the present moment on purpose without judgment and with kindness,” does not need to be a time-consuming experience. The “STOP” method includes, Stop, Take a Breath, Observe, and Proceed, and is a way to check in with your mind and body and help you get through difficult moments. Mayo Clinic provides brief and simple mindfulness techniques, including simply paying attention. Because it can be extremely difficult to focus during disarray, “paying attention” means choosing to pay attention to specific and small things. Examples such as focusing on smells and tastes of food during meals or focusing on sounds and sites during a walk channel our minds to those tasks rather than the worlds’ difficulties.
Pursuing Family Law Disputes
Addressing family law disputes can be particularly disheartening when familial connections are essential during social distancing. Families seeking divorce, a custody and parenting time agreement, and property settlement may find themselves deeply frustrated with extra financial uncertainty or choose to postpone plans. Although your legal dispute may not be addressed as quickly, it does not mean that all plans must be postponed. Many family law services occur outside courtrooms, and most Minnesota court appearances are occurring remotely.
Our staff understands that pursuing a legal dispute is particularly troubling during an international pandemic and economic crisis. Before panicking about your familial situation, please contact our office. We can guide you in a direction that works for your unique situation.
At Lake Harriet Law Office, we provide strong legal representation for our clients who are going through divorce and family law matters, and we use a data-focused financial approach to address the division of assets and debts.
If you are concerned about divorce and the related financial issues, please contact us to schedule a consultation at 612-750-4843.
Managing Attorney – Randall A. Smith
Student Attorney – McKenzie Harter
Student Attorney – Taylor Blatchford
Student Attorney – Katie Arndt
 Managing Stress and The Threat of COVID-19. MN Dept. of Health. https://www.health.state.mn.us/communities/ep/behavioral/stress_covid19.pdf (2020)