5 Ways To Survive Day-To-Day Life When The Pandemic Feels Like It'll Never End

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Have you hit a pandemic wall — or two or three? You're not alone.

You may feel overwhelmed and listless, like you're languishing, or suspect that you're suffering from more severe forms of depression and anxious avoidance.

Regardless of what way you're feeling "off," chances are pretty good that you may not be feeling quite like your pre-pandemic self. And there are many reasons why. 

Figuring out how to find a "new normal" after the Covid-19 pandemic might not be happening the way you expected.

RELATED: 3 Ways Clear Communication Diffuses Post-Pandemic Social Anxiety

Some of the positive signs of progress, like climbing vaccination rates and the lifting of restrictions have been complicated by the spiking rates of the Delta variant and worries about back-to-school safety for our kids.

Despite the nation's hopefulness that the pandemic was nearly over, nothing has been the magic bullet everyone has longed for.

Recovering mental wellness requires patience and managing expectations can be central to staying on track. This is the "rinse and repeat" of protecting sanity and the key to take control when so much feels beyond reach. 

Learn how to find a "new normal" during (and after) the pandemic in these 5 ways.

1. Remember that arriving on the other side is still the goal.

Midway into the pandemic quarantine, many appreciated the reminder of resetting their expectations, keeping in mind that the most important goal of the pandemic was to survive

While you're struggling with the weight of what this has required for you, it can help to remind you once again of the "why" behind your various sacrifices, inconveniences, and mental scars.

Recognizing your survival and tapping into your biggest goals can help put things in perspective.

2. Accept that people's coping styles will vary.

With conversations about how to "go back," how to do it safely, and bracing for new routines and systems, differences of opinion are to be expected but can be irritating too.

These feelings can be exacerbated as you emerge from your cocoon and see others — strangers and friends — who may see things differently than you.

The key here is to remember that everyone is wrestling with similar emotional strains and doing their best, even if their best is frustrating.

Compassion and re-framing boundaries can help keep you stay focused on yourself, and what you can control.

3. Define (and redefine) your "new" normal as needed.

Rather than thinking about getting "back to normal," why not consider what your "new normal" should actually be?

What lessons have you learned during the pandemic and how could it help your post-pandemic routine?

For example, how hard it is to "live" at work, connect through Zoom, or resist the temptations of your stocked pantry?

How did these things teach you to create stronger boundaries between work and you-time, prioritizing in-person meetings, or forcing yourself back to the gym?

Of those routines that will likely change, which will you miss and which won’t be hard to see go? Taking stock of lessons learned — both good and bad — can help give purpose when languishing takes hold.

RELATED: 12 Coping Skills You've Discovered In The Last Year That Can Sustain You For Life

4. Notice progress, and celebrate wins — this languishing will not last forever.

Growth is incremental, and sometimes requires focus to be discerned. Thanks to your negativity bias, you are much better at noticing the negatives than the positives.

Finding the proverbial glass half full can be harder than it sounds, especially when you're tired and worn down. If you find yourself feeling fatigued by the road ahead, take a moment to look behind you, at how far you’ve come already.

Seeing progress, and celebrating it if we can, can deliver a needed boost to keep carrying on when feelings of fatigue and apathy threaten to take over.

5. Be gentle — it boosts resilience.

It doesn’t feel good to languish, and feeling guilty about your mood can go with the territory. But, feelings of guilt and shame seldom boost moods and, more often, add to the negative emotional load.

Guilt might seem like a reasonable way to dig deeper, find the positive, or even "snap out of it," but forcing it only makes things harder.

Instead, try to make room in your life to be worn down, distracted, and dull. At the same time, notice any small sign of progress.

Recognize that while you may be slower to return to "normal" than you’d like to be, you are still absorbing the impact of the pandemic and healing from it

Self-compassion, along with resetting expectations, can go a long way to buffering inner conflict and boosting resilience.

It shouldn't be a big surprise to find yourself still struggling with listlessness, depression, and hopelessness. 

You may also feel like you're languishing, which an article in "The New York Times" describes as "the 'blah' you're feeling." And you're not alone if you are.

The pandemic has been a long haul, and sadly its impact on mental health will likely linger beyond the return of our physical safety.

Following the Spanish Flu of 1918, mental illness soared and its recovery trailed physical recovery by a factor of three (six vs. two years).

Of course, there are many differences between then and now that should ensure a more efficient recovery this time.

Lower relative mortality rates, better mental health care, and digital tools have helped buttress our collective resilience, but mental illness is still hitting record highs around the world.

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Despite modern advances, your mind and mood have suffered and you will need space to recover, likely more than you're expecting or wanting.

RELATED: Why Both Introverts & Extroverts Find Social Interaction Tiring After Lockdown

Getting to a state of languishing took time and growing out of it will, too.

Doing more and restoring pre-pandemic routines can certainly help, but even these well-meaning recommendations can feel premature.

When the idea of doing anything else merely brings up dread, you may need to try something else first: managing your expectations.

Expectations and their role in anxiety are always in our control, unlike so many other variables.

And at the heart of almost all anticipatory anxiety, disappointment, and inner conflict, expectations can powerfully shape your experience and, thus, your mental health.

Too often, hopes can find themselves masquerading as expectations, stealthily dulling mood and outlook.

This is the heart of languishing — expecting to feel differently, but not being there, yet.

As you embark on life beyond the pandemic, aim to be as gentle as possible with your expectations. Getting back to “normal” may take longer than you’d like, but it will happen. And you can emerge stronger and better for it.

There’s nothing wrong with you if you are languishing.

It means you are human and are surviving one of the greatest struggles of a generation. Why not recognize your strength in persevering and give yourself the break you deserve?

Working with yourself is how you get through languishing, so you can feel what's on the other side.

As we once again welcome a new season and more change, here's hoping you can be gentle with yourself, honor your progress, and celebrate your resilience, no matter how blah you may be feeling.

RELATED: 6 Helpful Tips For Heading Back To Work (With Actual Human Beings!)

Dr. Alicia Clark is a licensed clinical psychologist. Looking for more help understanding how anxiety can be a tool rather than a burden? Check out her Anxiety Myths Navigator and discover the 12 key anxiety myths that are holding you back, how to reframe your relationship with anxiety, and take back control of your emotional life.

This article was originally published at aliciaclarkpsyd.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.