Thus far, the majority of our conversations about COVID-19 have focused on physical health and how to prevent this disease from spreading. But if you’re like most people, covid-19 has you feeling a little nervous, too. As a therapist, I know that mental health is just as important to consider in these uncertain times. Anxieties about unemployment, the economy, or going to work because you’re considered a necessary worker are all very common. So here are some tips to stay sane while practicing social distancing and coping with the stress and overwhelm of coronavirus.
Mental Health Tips for social distancing
1. Access Free or Discounted Resources on Social Media
Something that I’ve observed in the past several weeks is that fitness Instagram accounts, life coaches, and spiritual gurus are offering their content at a discounted price, or for free. For example, my partner and I just finished a seven-day relationship course that sparked deep, meaningful conversations about our values, expectations, and relationship vision. Try using some of your down time to better understand yourself and your partner!
Working or going to school from home comes with the temptation to sleep in or get distracted with household chores. With these distractions present, it may be helpful to hold yourself to parts of your normal day-to-day routine. Do you usually workout at 6am? Continue doing so. Do you usually start work at 9am? Try holding yourself to that, even if you do not necessarily have to. This can help maintain boundaries between work and down time, even though they are occurring in the same space.
3. Embrace Stillness
With so much uncertainty about when stay at home orders will come to an end there is an overwhelming air of anxiety and fear. Remember, that you can achieve a sense of internal peace by living in the present moment as much as possible. It may be helpful to add meditation or yoga to your daily routine at this time. Feeling short on time? Try bringing your awareness to your breath for ten minutes each day. Pay attention to what it feels like as air is moving through your nose. Notice the rise and fall of your chest. Remember, meditation can be simple!
Something that has been largely beneficial to me in the past few weeks has been limiting media of all forms. Yes, it is important to stay informed. However, when the majority of your conversations and the media you consume are about COVID-19, it can be overwhelming. Pay attention to how you feel on days when you spend a lot of time watching the news. Then, compare this to how you feel on days that you spend less time doing so and more time engaging in self-care and spending time with loved ones. If you notice a positive shift, consider limiting media use for the next few weeks.
5. Reconnect with Friends and Family Members
I’m sure you’ve heard this a time or two, but now more than ever it is important to maintain contact with friends and family members. As humans, we are wired for connection and belonging. For this reason, social isolation has the potential to cause an uptick in symptoms of depression and anxiety. Go the extra mile and reconnect with friends and family who you haven’t heard from in a long time. Sick of COVID-19 talk? It may be important to set boundaries around the topics you do and do not want to discuss.
Michaela Standhart is a Marriage and Family Therapist Candidate. She specializes in couples therapy, betrayal trauma, and works with adolescent as young as 12 years old. Michaela stays sane while practicing social distancing by reminding herself how happy her dog is.