There is so much conflicting information floating around right now. Many of us have concerns for our safety and well-being during the age of COVID-19, so let’s talk about it!
First of all, I’ve got some good news! The strategies and tools that we use in everyday life to keep us HAPPY AND HEALTHY are just as available to us now as they were before all of this. Let’s take a moment to remind ourselves of that, and perhaps get a little crafty!
Anxieties are fueled by overestimating a threat and underestimating our ability to cope with it. Most humans experience some semblance of nervousness or anxiety when feeling out of control. I want you to feel more IN CONTROL, empowered and safe… so we are going to look at small, simple ways to be mindful and take greater control of our environments and our choices.
Many of us choose to spread kindness, LOVE and joy in our lives every day! Let’s re-frame some of the inconvenient changes in our lives and look at them in a different light.
When we take precautions like washing our hands (for at least 20 seconds with warm, soapy water preferably like this), and practice social distancing, we do so to protect ourselves, but we are also taking a proactive role in providing care and consideration for our most vulnerable community members. By making small sacrifices and following the advice of our trusted healthcare professionals, you’re not just keeping you and your family safe, you’re HELPING others. That’s something to feel good about!
Some of us have the tendency to over do things, over prepare, over buy, over saturate, over watch. Let’s take a moment to ask ourselves… have my behaviors really been helpful? When I overthink, does it make me less anxious or does it create more stress? We want to avoid toxic stress right now. It lowers our immune system and reduces our ability to make clear, rational decisions. Here are some things you can do today to gain greater PEACE:
Let’s limit media exposure. I want you to feel in-the-know, but I also want you to find a healthy BALANCE and some boundaries. Take a look at what you are ingesting. Are you satisfied at the end? Craving more and more? Are you so full you feel sick? I recommend limiting your information gathering to one or two trusted sources like the CDC or the WHO. Get what you need and move on with your day. Is social media making you stress? Set a timer and limit your clicks and scrolling. Instead, grab that book or stack of magazines you haven’t had time to read and schedule time for yourself to engage in some much-needed self-care!
Taking good care of yourself, finding a moment to stretch and to BREATHE will do wonders for worry. The simple act of breathing calms your parasympathetic nervous system and reduces anxiety reactions. Two of my favorite breathing techniques are the 4-7-8 method (Breathe in through your nose for a count of 4. Hold for a count of 7. Breathe out through your mouth for a count of 8). and Box Breathing. (Visualizing a box, breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 4, breathe out for 4, hold for 4 and repeat the sequence.)
If you need to steady any racing or repetitive thoughts, visualize a STOP sign, lovingly tell yourself to stop (visualizing the sign again) and turn your attention to 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste.
Remember your Resolutions. Proper sleep, exercise and healthy nutrition are crucial to our emotional and physical HEALTH. Taking time to rest and practicing good sleep hygiene helps reset and recharge fatigued, hypervigilant body processes. A walk around the block increases endorphins, serotonin and Vitamin D which can boost mood and immunity. Eating as you normally would (instead of inhaling your disaster snacks) helps with mental clarity and sustained energy. Be sure to reduce caffeine and alcohol intake as they can increase feelings of worry, sadness and loneliness.
Be creative with connectivity. Both introverts and extroverts are feeling a shift as we practice “social distancing”.
Extroverts can find ways to modify their social interactions by scheduling virtual coffee dates and walks. Book clubs, game nights and movies can all be done via face time. Host or attend an online workshop or webinar or teach someone the breathing and thought-stopping techniques you just learned. Get CREATIVE! You can also go old school and pick up the phone to catch up with someone you care about.
Introverts may be stressed about all of the “peopleing” they will have to do while everyone is home together all day. The thought of no breaks can lead to overwhelm. ASK TO GET YOUR NEEDS MET. Go for a walk, ask for time alone to read, journal, stretch or watch a show. Remove yourself to regroup and recharge.
If you are experiencing significant anxiety or depression that affects your ability to participate in your usual daily activities, reach out to friends, family or a mental health provider who can offer support, guidance, insight, resources and a compassionate ear. Local Crisis Centers also have people standing by 24/7 to chat with you about any concerns, emotional distress or negative thoughts you may be having. You are NOT alone.
Remember, it’s natural and normal to fear the unknown. Empower yourself and shore yourself up by taking small steps each day to control what you can. Stay connected with me and let me know what helps you to feel strong, healthy and connected. LOVE YOU. Stay Well!