Community Psychiatry’s Leela Magavi, M.D. was featured in national online women’s lifestyle outlet HelloGiggles discussing how to move on to our new normal. 

Still Missing Your Pre-Pandemic Life? Here’s How to Move Forward, According to Experts

“Honoring an ending prepares us for a new beginning.”

Claire Harmeyer | HelloGiggles | September 21, 2020

Life in the midst of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is uncharted territory for everyone. To learn how to healthily grieve our pre-pandemic lifestyle and eventually adapt to our new one, HelloGiggles spoke to both a life coach and a therapist to get two different perspectives on the situation. These experts offered their advice on how we can close the door on our pre-pandemic life and open the door to our new one without feeling pressured to do so.

Advice from a therapist:

HelloGiggles also spoke to adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist Dr. Leela R. Magavi, who offered three tips for how we can fully grieve before moving on to our new lifestyle.

1. Say your feelings out loud.

Verbalizing your emotions can get them out of your head and, in turn, make them more understandable. Dr. Magavi recommends giving a voice to what you’re feeling and then writing about those complicated emotions in a journal, too. Putting pen to paper and seeing your emotions written down helps you identify what you’re actually experiencing, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center.

“Make a log of your emotions and identify any triggering factors which exacerbated [your] condition, as well as alleviating factors which help [you] feel better,” Dr. Magavi says. “This activity helps us learn more about what we feel, why we feel, and what we can do to combat helplessness and take control during this time of uncertainty.”

2. Open up to loved ones.

Although you might not be quarantining with family members, partners, or roommates, you should still be vulnerable with them when you do communicate, whether that’s in person or over the phone.

“Grieving openly with family and friends may aid those who fear tackling their emotions on their own,” Dr. Magavi explains. “If you don’t grieve, you’ll hold on to feelings of anger, sadness, and denial when attending to daily tasks and speaking with loved ones.”

Gerth echoed the importance of opening up to the people close to you: “It’s important to have at least one person in our lives to whom we can say, ‘I’m not okay,'” she says. “So many of us are trying to be brave for other people in our lives, but being brave doesn’t require being emotionally isolated. Admitting how we really feel and asking for help isn’t weakness; it’s wisdom.”

By expressing how we feel to the people in our lives, we might connect with them over this shared experience and, in turn, hold each other accountable for sharing our emotions and working toward positive change.

3. Create three simple goals each morning.

Rather than making a full to-do list, which can be overwhelming, Dr. Magavi recommends writing down three goals for the day. These can be as simple as making a healthy lunch, connecting with a friend, or even just being kind to yourself. “Then, prior to sleeping at night, thank yourself for the goals you accomplished or any little victory of the day,” Dr. Magavi advises.

Practicing gratitude by thanking yourself and others fosters optimism and self-esteem, which leads to a more positive mindset. In fact, a 2015 study done by Berkeley College found that writing gratitude letters greatly improves mental health.

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