In this time of uncertainty, almost all of us are experiencing some level of fear. Even if it is not fear for ourselves, it may be fear for loved ones, or a sense of helplessness, a loss of control. These global challenges are ones we have never experienced. It has permeated every sector of our lives from social media and email inboxes to our work life and everyday conversations. No one has any answers or knowledge of what is going to happen. It can create a crisis in our individual and collective mental well being. What can we as individuals do? There is one place that we can go to get a break from it all – the space within our own minds.
This is a time to slow down and find gratitude for the small things in each moment. Hold onto all the things that give you hope…Nature, meditation, exercise, reading, art, music, connecting with people in new ways. I invite you to use the following self-nurturing tips to help prevent increased feelings of depression, anxiety, and social isolation to make this time as easy as possible.
Above all, remember this… Be gentle with yourself. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself space to feel and simply be. Take a deep breath. We will make it through this together. Seek Moments of Peace Commune with nature. Take walks and touch some flowers. Spend time in the forest or near water. Listen to soothing music. Take a warm bath. Give yourself a little massage. Search for moments of peace and savor each and every one of them.
BE PLAYFUL Take regular breaks that allow you to do something you enjoy. Create the time – even just 30 minutes per day – to be your goofing off time. Get silly! Listen to uplifting music. Move, dance, let your muscles loosen and your mind relax. What does silly time look like for you? Playing an instrument you don’t know? Painting? Drawing? Laughter Yoga? Inventing some new dance moves? Let yourself be playful in whatever form works for you. Get Up and Move! Let your body move and groove. Create or find playlists for your different needs, uplifting mood, relaxing, soothing, grieving. Set a time you will exercise daily and hold yourself to it.
Getting outdoors is best, but at the very least exercise at home. If you need motivation, start a buddy system or exercise group online so you can hold one another accountable. Social Distancing? I Prefer: Physical Distancing with Social Connection We are social, interdependent creatures and we cannot forfeit that. We need it. “Social Distancing” has seemed to imply that we cannot connect when nothing could be further from the truth. Face-time with family and friends. Get creative! Set up video (eg facetime, skype or zoom) calls with friends and family instead of just talking on the phone. Have zoom dance parties and virtual get-togethers. We don’t have to distance ourselves socially – we can practice Physical Distancing while also having Social Connections.
We are also expanding our spiritual connection on a global level. Everywhere in the world people are experiencing the same thing. Maintain Your Daily Routine At first, spending all your time in your PJs can be fun, but after a while, you get lethargic and sluggish. Having a routine is extremely important for our attentiveness, our brain, and our serotonin levels. Take showers, dress as you normally would, and maintain your daily habits.
Practice Preventative Care
Have a set routine for preventative care and stick to it. Take specific vitamins each day and drink a specific amount of fluids. Set a pattern for hand washing, showering, and laundry. Keep your immune system boosted with making healthy foods like bone broth, soups, high nutrient foods and make large quantities to freeze and share with others. Avoid too much sugar and alcohol.
Do Something Kind For Someone Else
Another way to deal with your own stress is to do something kind for people who are worse off. Get supplies for those who cannot leave their home. Drop off food at a food bank. Give some money to someone on the street or donate money to a local organization. Help out those who may need a break by helping watch their children, invite someone to go out for a walk (while maintaining 6 ft between you, of course).
Limit Exposure to News
Limit your news updates to once per day. Additionally, rather than looking at several news outlets, pick ONE trusted source such as the WHO, Department of Health, or or the state government updates. If you go searching and try to constantly research what is happening, you will only find things to support what you are looking for. This only reinforces negativity, fear, and panic. I’ll say it again – limit your news intake to once per day.
Limit Exposure to Media
Limit your time on any type of media, even social media. My suggestion would be no more than 30 minutes a day. If you have specific friends offer yoga, music, dance, etc on-line spend more time following them. Unfollow friends whose posts seem to ‘trigger’ you. Have specific social media groups you can go to address your fears and concerns so that you are not adding to the noise of the news feed.
The Elephant in the Room: Let’s Talk About Fear…
A certain amount of fear right now is perfectly reasonable. Acknowledge that you may be feeling a bit lost right now, and any sane person would. Be grateful for your discomfort, because it means you are not in denial. Just by reading this, you are allowing yourself to work through the anxiety. We have all been thrust into a situation where we have no control, adding a new layer of shock. We have loved ones who are vulnerable, and our psychological, financial, physical, and spiritual well-being are all being assaulted. Whether we want to or not, we are all feeling a level of fear. However, allowing ourselves to fall into panic is what leads to irrational behavior – either against loved ones or out in society. This is a layer of trauma. For some people it is new. For others, this new layer is reactivating old wounds. And we all deal with it in different ways.
Our Behavior Is Mirrored In Those Around Us
If you are feeling fearful, use your inner resources to deal with it. Before you call someone looking for them to calm you down, be sensitive to their ability to be supportive. Avoid spreading fear on social media and other platforms, because people are waiting and ready to mirror what you put out there. While you may be concerned for your loved ones, it is important to try and let go of that worry and trust we are all doing the best we can to take care of ourselves. If you start to feel overwhelmed and are needing outside support, call a therapist and schedule a session. I have offered teletherapy for 2 years and there are many more therapists who are now offering this service. Don’t wait till you start to feel malaise, high conflict with the people you live with, increased depressive or anxiety symptoms. I send you love and peace.
May we ALL be safe and protected. May we all care for ourselves and one another. Remember, this WILL pass and we are in it together. Holding you all in LOVE