Humans need other humans. Social distancing can increase anxiety for many of us, and can aggravate symptoms for people struggling with issues like depression, anxiety and substance abuse. Here are some things you can do to stay emotionally healthy in a time of stress and uncertainty. Here are some tips from our Meg Pope, the Counseling Program Director.
- Try mental distancing: We are inundated with unending Covid-19 news and rumors. Limit your social media time and schedule brief times to check trusted news sources no more than once or twice day.
- Get into your body: and out of your worried mind. Physical and emotional health are linked. Move your body, take stretch and walking/exercise breaks if you are working from home, get outdoors for fresh air, search for free or low cost online yoga, tai chi or qigong classes for stress reducing exercise.
- Stay connected: with family and friends…online. Use apps to share fun, not coronavirus panic. One family shares videos of their activities with each other every day on their Marco Polo group. Friends use video conferencing apps like Google Hangouts or ZOOM to join each other for dinner or games night.
- Help others: Most of us think about helping sick or elderly neighbors with snow clearance or supplies during a blizzard. With social distancing, we need to reach out to chat with the emotionally vulnerable people we know, those who are lonely or dealing with other stress like a death in the family, move to a new area, job loss, mental illness. Lifting a friend’s spirits often ends up lifting our own.
- Get centered: Starting a mindfulness practice can not only calm and ground you now, but give you a skill to take back to the crowded, busy world when this is all over. Google free mindfulness apps for adults or children and find one that appeals to you. And while many are used to turning to their places of worship in times of crisis, these doors may be closed until gathering bans are lifted. Check with your own faith community for ways to stay connected and look for online resources like the Christian Pray as You Go app or the Institute for Jewish Spirituality website.