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Expanding Personal Limits in the Time of Coronavirus

While our external world begins to shrink during this time of social distancing and shelter-in-place health orders, we are challenged to expand our personal, internal limits and thresholds for almost everything. 

It’s a little bit counterintuitive to think that while many of us are forced to stay at home, the demands on our lives go up. It seems like we would have more time to relax and unwind, right? But because we are in such unprecedented times with serious issues looming in every facet of our world, from political to social to economical to medical and all the in betweens, it seems the stakes have become even higher for us to cope.

For many, the novelty of staying home has worn off and we have begun to “hit a wall” in terms of our tolerance for staying put, isolation, or coping with other changes this pandemic has brought about in our world like working from home, or engaging all day every day with our family members or living unit.  

It’s important to recognize that you do have a limit and that it’s normal to exceed it because this is unprecedented terrain for everyone. Understanding that piece makes it easier for us to practice self-care, allowance for ourselves, and then focus on the work of expanding our tolerance where necessary.

It is helpful to consider we all have different thresholds of frustration, thresholds of isolation or interaction, thresholds for pressured deadlines, thresholds for responsibility and dependency, thresholds for entertainment, thresholds for information, and just about any other stimuli you could input into our environment or day to day existence, there is a point in which we reach our limit.

When these thresholds are met, there are various ways we respond. Some people shut down, some act out, some feel angry, some feel sadness or even hopelessness. Whatever way you respond to this type of overwhelm is okay, what is important is recognizing it is a response, and not indicative of your ability to move forward. 

When we have maxed out our threshold for any of these things, the first thing we need to do is recharge. This is how we care for ourselves and ensure that we can keep going beyond the meltdown. If we try to forge through without first recharging, we are operating on volatile ground and the risk goes up that we might do or say something we would later regret. 

So how do we recharge? This looks different for everyone and to identify your recharge button, you must think about what it is that flows easily from your spirit, what clears your head and replenishes your energy? It is also usually something within your natural skillset. Some common activities people turn to:

  1. Taking a walk or otherwise getting fresh air.
  2. Journaling, doodling, or other creative activity.
  3. Exercise, yoga, or other physical workout.
  4. Reading, sleeping, listening to music, prayer or other restful ideas.
  5. Eating a snack or drinking plenty of water.
  6. Calling a friend, writing a letter, or other ways to connect socially.

These little breaks give us an opportunity to step away from whatever is stressing us and refill our tank with the necessary fuel required to keep going. 

Once we feel we have reached a more balanced perspective, it is then and only then, we can pick back up and go again. This does not change the fact that it is likely we will eventually reach our threshold again. But this should not discourage us because by repeating this process, we progressively grow our capacity to withstand the pressures that are imposed on our “new normal”, living in the time of coronavirus. 

Next time you feel the frustration or hopelessness bubbling up within, try recognizing it as a threshold you are close to breaching and your cue to step away and do something rejuvenating for a while. Learning to recharge and expand our personal limits is an investment in our personal growth that will serve us no matter the circumstances that arise.

Expanding Personal Limits in the Time of Coronavirus

Bonnie McClure

Bonnie McClure is a freelance writer based in rural, northwest Georgia. She lives here with her husband, two young sons, and cattle dog, Kudzu. An avid runner and yogi, she is devoted to improvement across all dimensions of wellness. With a background in psychology and small business management, she believes everyone is capable of life-changing growth and aspires to help others achieve their personal and professional goals. She is a member of the Georgia Writer’s Association and writes motivational posts and provides free, small business resources on her blog for her freelance writing business, WriterType.

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APA Reference
McClure, B. (2020). Expanding Personal Limits in the Time of Coronavirus. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 29, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 4 May 2020 (Originally: 5 May 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 4 May 2020
Published on Psych All rights reserved.