These are unprecedented times. COVID-19 has completely turned our worlds upside-down. Everything that we were sure of has become uncertain: our jobs, health, safety, plans, routines, school, families, loved ones. Everyone has been impacted. All of this change, along with not knowing when, or if, we will be able to resume “normal life” as we knew it, can seem overwhelming. However, it is important to remember that we are not alone.
1. Stay connected Take time to set up phone or Zoom dates with friends. Call people or use FaceTime to see each other. All the technological advances in our modern world can make staying connected much easier and more fun.
· Plan a get-together. With a few close friends or neighbors, plan a weekly get together where everyone brings their own lawn chairs, masks, gloves and other protective gear. Find a pleasant outdoor area (front yard, neighborhood park, etc.) and place chairs at a minimum 6 feet apart (or follow specific social-distancing guidelines for your community). You’ll be able to interact with your friends face-to-face, while maintaining your personal safety and the safety of others.
2. Express your feelings, thoughts, and emotions Engage in psychotherapy sessions over the phone or through various remote platforms. Consider joining an online support group.
3. Focus on the present moment Remind yourself that in this moment, you are safe, and you are okay. Practice mindfulness, such as grounding exercises that help bring you to the here and now by focusing your attention through tactile means. For example, hold a stone in your hand and consider: Is it smooth? Cold? Warm? Large? Small? By describing objects in detail, we are forced to be present in the moment.
· Practice calming techniques, like meditation or guided meditation. Take time to enjoy the little things. Take that extra minute to enjoy the sun, or hear the birds chirping. Smell the flowers.
4. Accept your current situation Acceptance of the current situation does not mean you have to like it. It simply means that you acknowledge the facts for what they are. When we stop fighting our realities and our truth, we instantly feel lighter.
5. Focus on factors that are in your control Stay active. Go for a walk, play with your kids, sing, dance! When we don’t have control over what is going on in our world, we do get to choose how we react to it.
6. Create new routines Some level of structure and a routine is important for all of us. Make it a point to break up your day. For example: Have breakfast in the morning, then have time for work and things that you must do, then have lunch, have some down time (where you allow yourself to relax and do things you enjoy), have dinner, and make time for a bedtime routine.
7. Practice gratitude The 3 G’s: This is an exercise that I love implementing with my clients. I ask them to identify the 3 G’s in their lives today. The 3 G’s are: 1. Good: What is something that is good for you right now. What is going well in your life?. 2. Grateful: What is something you are grateful for today? 3. Goal: What is your goal for today? This week?
8. Help others Numerous studies have shown that by helping others, we also help ourselves. There are several ways to support those who are struggling while maintaining social distancing. Donate online, make a phone call to a neighbor to check in. Knowing that someone cares has more benefits than you can imagine.
9. Self-Care Make time every single day to do something for YOURSELF. This could be as simple as taking five minutes to go outside and enjoy the beautiful weather. It could be taking a bubble bath or actively allowing yourself to sit and do nothing, or enjoying arts and crafts with the kids. Painting, drawing, scavenger hunts and building “forts” are fun ways to incorporate play and relaxation into your day.
10. Screen the information you are receiving from the news Utilize resources that provide accurate information regarding COVID-19 and the current pandemic.Brittney Henderson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who has a private practice in Westlake Village. She is offering Telehealth sessions at a reduced rate or free of charge to help support those struggling with mental health and stressors due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. Contact her at 805.267.1869.