A pandemic and advised quarantine brings up unique and unprecedented concerns and challenges. We have been researching the mental and emotional effects and wanted to pass along some findings that can be helpful during this time.
1. Try to maintain your/a routine and schedule as “normal” as much as possible. Even if you don’t HAVE to watch your recorded class at a certain time, watching it during your normally-scheduled class or working on work for that class at that time can maintain routine and sense of normalcy. This includes wake/sleep times, as well as meals. Maintaining a routine/schedule can be helpful for anxiety, depression, self-concept, and on and on.
2. Make time for new practices. This might also be a helpful time to schedule in practices you have been wanting to try (i.e. meditation, yoga, reading more, etc. or actually scheduling and embracing REST) Yes—SCHEDULE REST. Especially if there is a part of you that feels guilty for resting.
3. Keep your expectations in check. Just because you are home doesn’t mean you SHOULD be doing all of the things. Demonstrate compassion and curiosity with the parts of yourself that are activated and/or struggling during this time.
4. Stay connected. Social distancing can bring up feelings of isolation and, in turn, sadness or loneliness. FaceTime/Skype friends and family and go on a walk while talking to loved ones on the phone. Try to connect over a face-to-face virtual medium or over the phone at least once a day rather than solely relying on texting. Have we mentioned scheduling? Scheduling weekly phone/skype dates can be soul-enriching! You are not alone!
5. Be mindful and intentional with your news and media usage. It’s important to be informed but it’s also important to be aware of the effect news and media are having on you emotionally. Picking one medium, once/day can limit continual, intrusive pings of anxiety/distress. This goes for social media, as well.
Use FACT-BASED reasoning and be on guard for fear-mongering. Some helpful points to consider:
- Probable vs. Possible – check your sources when reading new information about the spread of coronavirus.
- Remember, all emotional reactions are normal in an abnormal event
- Anxiety says there MAY be a threat. Thank it for trying to protect you and work WITH it to keep AWARE vs. ALARMED.
- Utilize deep breathing techniques (like square breathing), grounding techniques (like using your 5 senses to ground yourself), and/or the container technique (especially before bed if anxious thoughts are keeping you awake)
- Utilize a mantra to reassure/comfort your anxious parts (“This too shall pass”)
- Be mindful of all or nothing and catastrophizing thought patterns (i.e. “there is nothing I can do” “If I get the virus, I will die”, etc.)
- Utilize non-judgmental observation (“I am having the thought/feeling that…”)
- Focus on aspects WITHIN your control
- Be aware of your emotional reactions with others and vice versa (draw boundaries when appropriate)
- Recognize how your breath and thoughts slow down after utilizing these tools—you are capable of handling big emotions!
As always, please let us know if you have any questions/concerns about any of the above. Please reach out to your support systems (us included) if you are needing or wanting any support. Also, please direct a loved one to mental health care providers if needed.