During these trying times, many people are experiencing heightened anxiety and stress. We have included some coping strategies that may be helpful to you and your family.
Avoid the endless scroll. While it is important to stay up-to-date with the happenings of the world around us, many have said that the more they watch, the more anxious they become. What can you do? Only receive news updates from trusted outlets to ensure you receive accurate information. Instead of the constant scroll of social media or watching the news all day, limit your news viewing to a couple of times a day and for a limited time. Set a timer if it helps.
Find ways to connect while social distancing. Phone calls, FaceTime, Skype, email, and other virtual tools are great ways to reach out to others. Write letters and send cards. Have a virtual get-together using tools like Zoom. Take videos of yourself reading books to the children in your family and upload them to a shared drive for loved ones to view.
Tackle the day. Going days without bathing and staying in your pjs all day takes a toll on your mood. Instead, get up, wash your face, brush your teeth, and get dressed. It might also be helpful to have a to-do list for the day. Now is a great time to do those “if I only had enough time” projects.
Take care of your body. Studies have shown that when people have perceived social isolation (i.e. loneliness), they are less physically active, and chronic periods of stress can predict future weight gain because we tend to crave unhealthy foods. The good news is that there is something you can do about this! Follow your doctor’s advice about exercise and good nutrition. Get outside a little each day. When you notice yourself craving something sweet, try a piece of fruit instead. If the siren call of that junk food is too much, limit yourself to just a few bites and save the rest for another time.
Keep your mind engaged. Read books, periodicals and other forms of literature. Try audio books—Audible has free downloads of children and teen books. Use your library card for free access to e-Media (books, audio books, videos, digital media, etc). Listen to a new podcast. Play games with those in your household, on apps, or remotely. Try a remote chess game by sending pictures in between moves to your opponent.
Access spiritual resources. Many faith communities are now offering online services. Find quotes, poems, and other verses that are uplifting and read them daily. Try meditation or another mindfulness practice to help center and ground you. Be intentional in your gratitude practices as a way to counter the negatives thoughts.
Seek support. Feelings of depression may increase in trying times like these, and it is important to know that you are not alone. More and more support groups are meeting virtually, and there are 24/7 hotlines available to assist caregivers. Also, Medicare has expanded telehealth services, and many therapy offices are offering telehealth therapy sessions. It is important to know that if you are having feelings of hopelessness and despair, you do not have to suffer in silence. The Suicide Prevention Lifeline is always available 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK.