Life is going to look different for a while, and it’s hard to know how long.
It is not the end of the world, but a lot is changing very quickly. In the moment, it’s easy to forget the basics. Physical preparation and precautions are important, and there will also be a mental and emotional toll.
Here are some ideas for making the most of a difficult situation. This is not about COVID-19, this is about holding it together as the world is turned upside down.
1. CONNECT with loved ones.
Learn to video chat, instant message, text and/ or email. Ask around what platforms your friends and family are using, connect with them, get their updated contact info, say ‘hello’ electronically. Despite recent enthusiastic proclamations by introverts everywhere, for most of us, socializing with other humans is health promoting.
We are social creatures, we don’t do well in extended isolation. People are working from home, schools are closed, events are canceled- the ‘normal’ channels through which we get our social fix are not available. We have other options, it’s just a matter of embracing new habits and routines.
2. GO OUTSIDE EVERYDAY*
‘Social distancing’ does not mean total lock down. We’re not there yet, make the most of it. Fresh air will do you good (reduces stress). Sunshine will do you good (it boosts immunity!). Seeing other humans from a distance will do you good. If you’re not feeling great, or the prospect of face to face contact is uncomfortable, open a window and stick your head out or just let the sun warm your skin.
3. EXERCISE* regularly
(yep, it’s still good for you, even when the sky is falling). Exercise is health promoting in many ways, it may improve immunity, and it lowers stress, improves mood, and can be an excellent distraction. Take a hike, ride your bike, walk the dog. It’s also a safer way to socialize- the virus does not spread as well in the open air.
4. REACH OUT* to people.
Check in that loved ones are OK, make sure folks are not too isolated, offer assistance if you can, talk about what you’re feeling. No better time to re-connect, or increase the frequency of contact with people you care about. Loved ones in nursing home was to hear from you (just not in person)!
This illness may push us away from each other (physically). We can balance that by becoming more closer emotionally. Not in our lifetime (if ever) has the entire world shared an experience like this. It’s scary, and potentially quite profound.
5. GET PLENTY OF SLEEP!
Sleeping 7-9hrs/night should be the goal. Sleep improves immunity, reduces stress, and feels good. Working from home and the desire to know what is going on in the world is going to put most people at a computer all day. That, and reduced activity levels, plus stress, are a terrible combo for sleep.
Now is the time to work on those better sleep hygeine habits! Put away your screens 30-60min before bed, minimize caffeine and keep it early in the day, make sure your bedroom is truly dark (black out curtains!) and cool, and quiet.
Things are about to get weird.
*If you are actively sick, or live somewhere with uncooperative weather, ignore these.
Written by kj Cottrell
Online Therapy in San Francisco
To help stop the spread of COVID-19, our team of therapists and psychiatrists are now offering all sessions via HIPAA-secure teletherapy. For new patients, this means your first few visits will be online while we all wait for this to pass.
If you’re considering therapy for coronavirus-related anxiety – or, for any other reason – we’re here to help.
Click below to schedule a free, short Q&A call with a compassionate intake specialist (working from home, of course).