Tools For Coping & Self-Care
During this unprecedented time of health and economic crisis brought about by the Covid-19 outbreak, you have likely found yourself experiencing feelings of stress, anxiety, anger, fear, grief, guilt, or even panic that are normal, natural responses during any crisis. Because this crisis is not time limited, with other outbreaks possible and return to normal activities uncertain, you can feel an undercurrent of constant fear. Such extended stress can have a significant toll on your wellbeing. For this reason it is essential to find ways to prevent the stress from becoming overwhelming or paralyzing. The following tips and strategies can help you manage your distress and support you during social-distancing and quarantine.
Stay connected with others
Social connection and support are crucial in developing emotional resilience. Stay connected with your close circle of friends, family, and colleagues by reaching out proactively-- schedule time together through phone calls and apps such as Zoom, Facetime, Google Hangout, Microsoft Hangout, or Skype. Also Caribuis an app that you can use to read books and play games with children in your family. Some of these apps are being offered free during the pandemic.
Set and maintain a new routine
Routines provide a sense of predictability, structure, and security which is stabilizing in times of uncertainty. Disruptions are stressful. Create a schedule with set times for waking, meals, and bedtime, as well as other structured activities (exercise, quiet time, social time, hobbies, etc.) to fill your day. Set hours similar to those you would have on a typical day.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Eat more nutritious, healthy foods regularly to keep blood sugar stable. Processed foods, sugar, and caffeine contribute to disruptions in mood. Skipping meals or eating too much sugar can cause dips in blood sugar levels that can affect mood. Get enough sleep. You may need more rest than usual to combat the intense pressure being exerted on your nervous system during this stressful time. Physical activity like doing yoga or exercise is also a great way to dissipate anxiety or despair.
Spend some time outside
Being in sunlight enhances Vitamin D which is important for your bones, blood cells and immune systems. Sunlight helps regulate serotonin levels, increasing energy and helping to maintain focus, calmness and a positive outlook. Sunlight affects cells in your eyes ensuring your body’s internal clock is working right. Finally, time in nature can boost your creative problem-solving skills.
Stay mentally active
It’s important to keep your mind active. Try learning a new hobby or skill; start a new puzzle (sudoku, crossword puzzle, or jigsaw puzzle), or challenge yourself to learn a new language. There are many resources online for free online classes, such as Coursera.
Limit media coverage
Name your worries and limit triggers
Identify what worries you. Is it your health or your families’? Financial instability? Access to resources? It’s likely to be a combination of stressors that together can be overwhelming or even paralyzing. Identifying each one can make them more manageable. What are the triggers to your worries? Are you checking the news every hour? Spending too much time on social media? Consider limiting the amount of time you spend listening to the news and designate a particular time of day for viewing the news or engaging in social media.
Find ways to relax
It’s important to schedule time for relaxation and pleasure daily . It’s less important what activities you do as it is doing something that helps you feel better and distracts you from your worries.Find an App that teaches mediation, deep breathing or yoga. Calm.com and headspace.com are two apps that can be very helpful.
Develop a practice of gratitude
Expressing and receiving gratitude induce the brain to release neurochemicals (dopamine and serotonin) that are responsible for positive emotions such as happiness and joy. Simple practices like reflecting on what you are thankful for or sending a thank you note can lift your mood. Look for ways to safely help others such as dropping off a meal or checking that a neighbor who lives alone is okay. Start a gratitude journal that reminds you of what you are grateful for.
We hope you, your family, and friends stay well during these trying times. If you need more assistance, we are here to support you with therapy sessions via secure video meetings. Please call to schedule.