Rachel Fleischman, LCSW, REAT and Laurel Roberts Meese, LMFT
1) What are you telling clients who just can't seem to get away from the news?
Anxiety is high these days, with tone changing swiftly and future plans up in the air. Here are some ways to combat the anxiety that is surging through the world.
1) Get information and log off. Other than ensuring you are following CDC/WHO precautionary recommendations and workplace/school guidelines, there is no benefit to staying connected to the news cycle 24/7. We are all aware of the impact of this virus, but ruminating on it will only increase our cortisol levels, which decreases our immune function. Check in with updates once or twice a day, otherwise go about your modified life.
2) Reconnect with friends and loved ones while socially distancing. Yes, we all need to practice social distancing, but there are myriad ways to connect despite that. Make a date with an old friend to eat dinner over FaceTime. Call up your niece who lives out of state and see how she’s doing. Respond to social emails and texts that you’ve been meaning to get around to. If you live with a partner or friends, use your creativity to make added time together fun and spontaneous. Make a picnic and eat it on the living room floor. Plan a vacation for down the line. Put on your favorite upbeat music and dance together. Get out a board game. Social distancing doesn’t have to equal boredom or loneliness. Connecting with people we care about decreases our stress and keeps us healthier.
3) Use your newfound time. If you’ve been advised to telecommute or stay home, you’ve been granted hours more in your day. Now you get that time back – use it! Tackle that closet reorganization, dig up old recipes , and dust off your art supplies. You may just re-discover a passion or form of self-care that got lost in the shuffle.
4) Take care of your body with good sleep and exercise. With the added time you now have, you can go to bed 30 minutes earlier and/or hop on that exercise bike for a bit and still feel like you have plenty of leisure time. You can pull up cardio routines on YouTube and do them right in your apartment. If the weather is nice and you live in an area that isn’t densely populated, go for a walk or jog outside. Keeping your body healthy helps protect everyone around you by boosting your immune system and decreasing your anxiety.
5) Breathe and check in with your body. We carry more than our physical frame with our muscles. Close your eyes and do a slow scan from feet to head. You may notice you’re tensing your shoulders or neck. Don't judge it as good or bad; your body is giving you information. Breathe through it and let the physical release transfer to your emotional state.
6) If your anxiety about coronavirus has become consuming, talk to a therapist. Many therapists offer telehealth sessions so you can stay in the comfort of your home while also getting the help you need. I offer these sessions to current and new clients through my secure, HIPAA-compliant portal. You can set up an intro call right now.
Got questions about mental health and coronavirus? Ask away!