If you've felt sad, angry, anxious, or just plain uncomfortable this year, you might actually be grieving the loss of your pre-COVID life, according to author David Kessler. Any sudden, major change can cause feelings of grief, and the numerous COVID restrictions -- from canceled family gatherings to entire countries on lockdown -- certainly qualify as "major changes." 

Learn what to expect from the grieving process and some essential tips to combat feelings of anger, sadness, and anxiety.

The Stages of COVID Grief

Grief occurs in five distinct stages. We don't necessarily go through these stages in a specific order, and we can return to a previously experienced stage at any time. The five stages of grief, characterized by COVID, include: 

1. Denial: "COVID-19 isn't a big deal." 

2. Anger: "Why can't I go to my favorite places??"

3. Bargaining: "If I just stay inside for two weeks, it will all go away."

4. Sadness: "I feel lonely, not getting to see my friends, family, and coworkers."

5. Acceptance: "Yes, things are different, but I will adapt and overcome."

Uplifting Techniques to Combat COVID Anxiety

Try to Find Balance

It's impossible not to have any negative thoughts, but it's also not healthy to have only negative thoughts. If you notice you're in a negative thought pattern, find a few positives to think about. Get in the habit of countering every negative thought with a positive one to stay in balance.

Focus on the Present

Any time you notice your thoughts drifting toward worrisome "what if" situations, take a few deep breaths and reframe your thinking. Remind yourself that in this specific moment, you are safe. There is a roof over your head, food in the kitchen, and a warm bed for you to sleep in. 

Don't Think About Things Beyond Your Control

If there's nothing you can do about something at this very moment, put it out of your mind. Take a break from listening to the news if it makes you feel anxious. Focus on what you can control: your attitude, a cozy place in your home, the music you listen to, etc. 

Be Patient and Kind

Everyone is feeling the strain right now. Remember to practice kindness and patience with your loved ones, yourself, your coworkers, and anyone you encounter out in the world or online. Lashing out -- especially over minor annoyances -- won't help the situation. In contrast, a simple kindness can brighten someone's day. Choose to be kind. 

Stay in Contact

Guidelines may discourage in-person visits right now, but our friends and family members remain just a phone call away. If you're having a hard time, reach out. You can get a pep-talk, discuss your feelings, or ask about what's new in their lives. Remember, social distancing does not mean social isolating. 

Keep Going 

It's okay to feel sad. It happens to everyone, even without a global pandemic. Hang in there. Every mood is temporary. Tomorrow is a new day. 

If you think you'd benefit from extra support from a mental health professional, try Confidant Health. Our app makes it easier than ever to reach out for advice at any time, just by sending a message to your matchmaker. Check out the chat section of the app and speak to a matchmaker at no cost.