Times of crisis can easily lead to feeling out of control and it can even lead to difficulties in your recovery. Whatever that means for you being anxiety, depression or even craving, taking a few proactive measures can help you stay grounded and add some stability to see you through hard times.
Each day, or even more often if needed, pause for a few minutes to take stock of where you are emotionally.
Ask yourself two important and very simple questions:
- What am I feeling?
- What do I need?
Try applying your stress level to a scale of 1 to 10 and figure out when you need to stop and help yourself reset. Oftentimes, when we feel stressed, we allow that sinking feeling to grow and creep into other areas where we often ruminate. Catching yourself early in the cycle can make it easier to pull back before you feel totally helpless.
Incorporate meditation into your daily routine. Clearing your mind for a few minutes a day helps to set perspective and intention. Allowing thoughts to arise naturally, but not linger can be tough. If you find meditation to be a difficult task, try using a guided meditation podcast or video. Listening to a guide’s voice can help you to focus inward and relax.
Physical activity works wonders on anxiety. Moving helps you naturally decompress. The gym may be closed, but there are plenty of activities you can do in or around home. Go for a run, have a dance party, do a yoga flow, whatever suits you. If strength training is more your style, get creative with what you use to add resistance to your push and pull motions.
When your entire routine is uprooted, it is important to recreate one. Sleep doesn’t lose its benefits when your schedule changes. Giving your body adequate rest (7-8 hours) without over sleeping helps you maintain a healthy rhythm. Be careful of screen time in the evening, as blue light negatively impacts your sleep.
Even if you have nowhere to go after you wake up in the morning, still maintain crucial routine elements like getting ready for the day. Brush your teeth. Take a shower. Behave as if you are going to make the most of each day from the start. You may not be heading into work or school, but the ritual of preparing for the day makes a difference in how we act.
Don’t Neglect Nutrition
No matter what is on your metaphorical plate for the day, it still matters what you’re putting in your actual plate. Sliding into a junk food binge isn’t going to help you feel better or boost your immune system. Opt instead for antioxidant rich foods, high fiber, and lean protein. Try new things in the kitchen while you have the time.
Division of Labor
If you have a partner, discuss how to manage the day to day, week to week tasks together. This can be impactful any time, but especially in times where everything seems unmanageable. If you’re like many of us right now, you’re struggling to work from home and/or homeschooling your kids. Working together can give everyone a role to play and break up difficult tasks. Sharing our burdens lightens the individual load. Work together and lean into one another’s strengths.
If you find yourself fixating on negative thoughts, shift gears and create something positive in the world. Even small acts can help us to change our thinking. Write notes to your loved ones or neighbors to check in with them, or even make a phone call or simple text. Maybe you could spend time each day working on a project that benefits someone else. Use your talents, if you’re handy, artistic, love to cook or bake or garden… create some beauty.
Mental Health and our needs for human connection don’t take a break for a pandemic. We may be staying physically apart to limit the spread of COVID-19, but it is important we don’t emotionally isolate. Maintain contact with your mental health support team via Telehealth or video appointment when in person meetings are not an option. Check in with your friends and family members and keep those connections strong.
Boundaries are important for helping you find some control. While you can’t control many things, you can control your decisions and actions. When you identify what you need, set yourself up to achieve it. Sometimes we need boundaries in our time. Compartmentalizing your time and tasks can make your day feel more manageable. This helps you organize your priorities and get more done.
Avoid information overload when you can. For some it can be tempting to keep the news on in the background, or read every new article, or tune in for every briefing. While there is value in being informed, information overload can take its toll on us. Create limits or rules to how you consume COVID-19 related information. When you do need an update, make sure you are receiving information for the most reliable, trusted sources only and avoid those who are only speculating or sharing wild theories to get a rise.
If you find yourself needing help, know it is available and you are not alone! Feel free to call if you need some support or resources during this time. We will get through this together!