Take a deep breath. Give yourself a moment to reset. Now is the time for all of us to support each other and try to make the best of an unexpected situation.
There’s no doubt, we are living in uncertain times. With news of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) constantly filling everyone’s newsfeed, people are unsure and nervous about what may happen next. It seems every hour there’s an update from leaders across the globe, mandating social distancing, canceling large sporting events, and making travel recommendations. It’s hard not to think about how this could impact you and your loved ones, and the rest of the world– and how it may continue to impact us all.
Perhaps you’ve had to cancel a trip or your company has asked you to work from home. Maybe your kids are out of school and you’re scrambling to keep them entertained and distracted. It could be you’re worried about elderly family members. Regardless of the toll these days have already taken, now is the time to give yourself grace.
It’s daunting to think about things you cannot control, so don’t even allow yourself to go down that rabbit hole. It’s important to remain calm and practical. Try listening to soothing music. Watch something light and funny on TV. Take a walk. There’s no sense in focusing on your fear. Instead, use this time to focus on the positive.
Chances are, you now have time to do things you never seem to fit in. Read the book everyone’s talking about, spring clean your home, work on your business, start a journal, do a craft, begin a puzzle or teach your kids a new game. When was the last time you called your out-of-town friends and actually talked? Consider writing a letter to a relative or listening to a light-hearted podcast. In our fast-paced, overbooked lives, these simple and relaxing tasks often fall off our to-do lists for more pressing needs, so I recommend you take this time to catch up! Whatever you choose to do, just pick something that will help you destress.
While it’s good to stay informed, don’t become obsessed with the news. Focus on what the experts are saying – not what someone posted on social media. If you are interested in learning more about Coronavirus, I suggest visiting the World Health Organization website or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. These groups are led by world-renowned specialists in their field and they will provide factual information without the scare tactics.
In addition to those suggestions, I also recommend you try to:
- Practice gratitude. Take the time to notice all the good parts of today. I find when I do this, I instantly feel better.
- Avoid catastrophic (worst-case-scenario) thinking. Be careful not to jump to conclusions, which can lead to fearful thoughts that may trigger anxiety about events that may never happen.
- Focus on breathing and other mindfulness practices. Meditation and yoga will keep you in the here-and-now.
- Get support. Many therapists are offering video-conferencing if you don’t feel comfortable meeting face-to-face. Talk with trusted loved ones. Access spiritual support by connecting with nature or through meditation or prayer.
- Practice good self-care such as promoting sleep and proper nutrition. Moderate alcohol, caffeine and other substance use.
And remember, “this too shall pass.”
For more information on protecting your mental health, read this helpful blog from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.