I have been wanting to post for a bit but my priority this week was to move my practice entirely online which has been very successful. People need to focus on their mental health as much as their physical health now, maybe even more so. So I am going to give you a few tips I have used or heard from others this week in no particular order.
1. Remember everyone is freaking out right now. That is correct. Even your therapist has had their moments. We are all navigating whatever our new realities are. It is okay to freak out some. This is a time of such uncertainty and change that it is hard not to be triggered by it all. At the same time, whatever skills you had to cope with stress before are still appropriate now. You may have forgotten that you have them but they are still there. Use the skills.
2. Since everyone is freaking out it is time for all us to expand our kindness and compassion. Your freak out and mine may look different. Try to hold that everyone is doing the best that they can and everyone has their limitations in dealing with this and you may not be aware of them all. Try to remember that when someone does something that makes you feel insane.
3. Reduce the news. Seriously. In my house, we tried to implement a rule that stated no one could yell “Oh my god” loudly when reading the news. The rule was an utter failure but we are trying to limit time on the internet and watching tv news. Once or twice a day is enough to know what is going on. More than that will create feelings of hopelessness or rage or other feelings. Just don’t.
4. I have loved this tweet below about working at home. We use the Cheryl rule at my home and it works well and has lead to a fair amount of laughter. And right now whenever you can bring laughter in do it.
5. Be in contact with others. I have heard of people doing virtual happy hours. Especially reach out to the seniors in your life. Everyone feels isolated now and we all need to work on keeping connections. Remember your therapist is also probably working online and most insurance companies are now covering tele-health including phone sessions.
6. Do whatever good you can do. Shop small businesses where you can-many are doing curbside pick-up. Check on your neighbors and your seniors. I learned many seniors buy only buy small packs of tp because big packs are heavy. I set an alert online for when amazon had tp in stock and was able to send some to the seniors in my life. Try not to give in to the impulse to overstock on things because not everyone can get what they need. I saw locally here food banks need volunteers and are engaging in social distancing. they also need money. If you can afford to pay any service workers you have come to your home regularly for times they are missing (gardeners, caregivers, cleaning people). Figure out how to put some good energy out there. I went for a walk today and talked or waved (at a distance) to everyone. I yelled thank you and waved to UPS and USPS workers. Every bit of kindness we can put out there helps.
7. Get out of the house and go for a walk (social distance rules still apply!) I woke up today tired and cranky. I went for a walk yelled hi and talked to people and found a small grocery store open with fresh food in it. The whole experience was awesome and energizing. and I plan to try and do it every day. It is also a way of checking in on neighbors. It may not be the person we expect that needs assistance.
8. Watch sea otters and jellyfish! I now have the Monterey Bay Sea cam on my desktop to check-in at any time. It is a great calming tool.
9. Listen to whatever your fun music is. on Monday when I was freaking out because my tele-health system crashed I had ABBA on my headphones in between work and it helped settle me. Music is often an antidote for stress.
10. Create and keep some structure. Unstructured time can lead to more anxiety. I think having a daily structure also makes things feel more normal. It will allow you to create whatever your new normal will be.
11. Be patient with yourself. Everyone I know right now is struggling with attention span. I know reading last night I found myself having to reread pages because I had lost focus. It is going to take all of us some time to acclimate to this new reality.
These are just some of the things I have put together in week one of the stay at home order. I would love to hear from people other things that are working for them.
Be well and take care!