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The Pandemic Skip: What It Is And How To Cope

Posted on March 11, 2024 by Henry Ford Health Staff
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People of all ages had their lives disrupted during the pandemic. It was a surreal time when attending school virtually and working from home became the norm. Lifetime milestones like birthdays, proms, graduations and weddings were celebrated virtually—or not at all. 

Many people feel they have lost time and opportunities due to the pandemic, a concept known as pandemic skip. According to Lisa MacLean, M.D., a psychiatrist at Henry Ford Health, you’re not stuck with these feelings. There are many things you can do to overcome these emotions and move forward. “Acknowledge what has been lost and look at this time as an opportunity to start fresh,” she says. 

Here, Dr. MacLean shares strategies to cope with life changes due to the pandemic. She also shares ways to thrive in the future.

Recognize And Accept Life Changes From The Pandemic 

“Recognize that we all went through this time together and can’t change what occurred,” says Dr. MacLean. “Take time to grieve losses by naming your feelings and giving yourself time to recover.”

The pandemic also had silver linings and led to many habits worth keeping—prioritizing family time, paying closer attention to your health, having compassion for others and supporting local businesses. Many people embraced hobbies like cooking, gardening or exercising to relieve anxiety and stress.  

Set New Post-Pandemic Goals 

Make a fresh start by setting goals for the future. “This step will help you stay mentally engaged, find purpose and embrace new opportunities,” says Dr. MacLean. “Use the SMART goal format to define specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound goals.”

Your goals may focus on what you want to accomplish in your career or schooling. You may want to learn a new skill or language. Maybe you have a hobby or interest you’ve put off pursuing. 

Ask a mentor or expert if you’re struggling to determine your goals. For example, if you want to improve your fitness, consider talking with a health coach

Create A Support Network

Our social networks became smaller during the pandemic, and many people felt isolated. Dr. MacLean recommends strengthening relationships with family and friends and expanding social connections to feel less lonely

You can connect with others in many ways, including talking by phone, meeting in person or setting up video calls. Expand your social circle by taking a class or joining a group connected to a favorite hobby. Get involved in the community by volunteering. 

Practice Pausing

Reduce stress by taking a break and giving yourself time for self-reflection. Try mindful meditation, relaxation exercises or journaling. 

Hit pause on your to-do list to refresh your mind. For many people, taking a break or just doing nothing boosts creativity and learning, reduces stress and improves mood.

Focus on Self-Care

“As you make a fresh start, don’t forget the basics of self-care,” says Dr. MacLean. She recommends:

When To Seek Support For Pandemic Skip 

Behavioral Health Services

Find a behavioral health specialist at Henry Ford or get more information about our mental health services.
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Some people may need additional support to move forward from the pandemic. “The good news is that the pandemic increased the availability of mental health support through virtual visits. Virtual care minimizes the time you need to take away from school, work or other daily activities,” says Dr. MacLean. 

She recommends seeking additional help from your doctor, psychiatrist or therapist if you:

  • Experience significant changes in your weight
  • Feel anxious, depressed or have thoughts of suicide
  • Have difficulty sleeping
  • Have physical symptoms that may be stress-related
  • Struggle to focus and concentrate

“There are many ways your healthcare team can offer support if you have difficulty readjusting after the pandemic. Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you’re struggling,” says Dr. MacLean.


 Reviewed by Lisa MacLean, M.D., a psychiatrist specializing in adult ADHD treatment at Henry Ford Behavioral Services in Detroit. She is the director of physician wellness for Henry Ford Health, using her expertise to help doctors optimize wellness and find balance by teaching them healthy coping strategies so they can better serve their patients.

Categories : FeelWell
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