These last few weeks have brought about rapidly evolving change in our lives. We are facing obstacles and uncertainties unlike any other time in our experience. All this has left many at a loss of how to cope and brought anxiety and fear about the future.
First things first, focus on safety. Do what do you need to do to keep you and your family safe which includes distancing from others, staying at home if you can, and thorough hand-washing. Heed the warnings of those in charge and take their guidance seriously. You may not be worried about your own health but realize that you could carry the disease to others even if you don’t feel sick. Be especially mindful of those in your life who are at high risk and do what you can to protect them.
Pay attention to keeping a daily routine which will provide structure and a sense of stability. Try to get up and go to bed around the same times. If you need to, create a schedule for your day, even if it’s tasks around the house or calling specific friends. If you find it difficult to focus, eliminate distractions, only listening to the media or checking your phone every few hours. Turn notifications off of your phone if you must. If you are working “remotely”, make yourself a comfortable work area even if it means converting a table into a desk in the corner of the room.
Next, consider what options you have to limit your stress given the new restrictions. Try not to focus on what you are missing or what you can’t do. Focus instead on what is within your power to control. Consider what your needs are such as to be active, or to socialize, or to relax. Think creatively about ways you can meet those needs in new (and healthy) ways that work with your individual situation and restrictions. Try a new workout video, find a new hobby, create trivia games through social media with your friends to find out how well you really know them.
If you find yourself not sleeping well or becoming increasingly anxious, focus on your breathing, taking long deep breaths from your belly and slowly letting it out. Find videos on mindfulness and practice it, starting with just a few minutes each day, gradually increasing the time. Give yourself positive messages such as “We will get through this” or “I can handle what today brings”. Being positive doesn’t mean you are ignoring the obvious, it means you are choosing to look for the good.
If you are considering using substances to help cope, consider this. Alcohol and other substances (including marijuana) negatively affect your immune system. Right now, you need your immune system to work at its best capacity. So do everything in your power to focus on healthy self-care, good sleep, good nutrition, stress management and not using substances so your body has its best chance to fight the coronavirus if exposed. If you are struggling with staying sober, try online 12 step meetings or call a treatment center.
Lastly, consider doing something for others. Reach out to others who are struggling and help how you can in a way that doesn't compromise yourself. A simple phone call or text indicating that you care and are concerned for that person could make all the difference in someone's day. Be the light for someone else.
Try to live one day at a time, use the extra time you have at home to focus on you, your self-care, positive thinking and finding the good in each day. We will get through this. We are in this together. At the end of the day, you need hope and strength. Hope that it will get better and strength to hold on until it does. Be safe. Stay well. You are worth the investment.
©2020 Peggi White Behavioral Health