In our world we are in the midst of unchartered territory. Covid-19 has changed our daily lives.
Here in Atlanta, the schools have recently shut down. My meetings are now conducted virtually. I had to comfort my crying 6-year old when I told him that his variety show performance for next week was now cancelled. Some people are panic buying at the grocery store, while others seem to be ignoring the expert advice regarding social distancing. For many people, the hardest part of dealing with it all is the uncertainty – financially, emotionally, socially, and medically.
Recently, I was asked to act as a mental health expert for a website, providing advice in response to people’s questions about coping with Covid-19. What has become clear from the questions that have been flooding in, is that people are afraid. The vast majority of questions had to do with how to handle their anxiety. Also, I figure that for every person who has reached out with a question, there are numerous people who have the same concerns.
If you’re finding that you can relate to some of these concerns, here are some suggestions for you to cope with any stress or anxiety you may be experiencing:
- Put healthy routines in place. To maintain some sense of normalcy in these times that are anything but normal, create a schedule for your household. In our home, I’ve put together a schedule that includes academic time for my son, work time, time to exercise, meditation time, free time, etc. I’ve also made sure to include solo time for each of us – even though we all love one another, as introverts, we know that we are liable to drive each other crazy if we don’t have time for ourselves.
- Because social distancing is going to change how we engage with one another, make sure to be intentional about connecting with friends and loved ones through phone calls, texting, video chats, and email. If you are concerned about family members who live elsewhere, checking in with them may help you to lessen any concerns you are feeling about them.
- Try to schedule time every day to get some form of exercise. Exercise is a natural mood booster, and even if you are not able to leave your home, you can find cardio exercise or yoga routines online that will provide you with some relief. If you are allowed to leave your home, taking a walk around the block or in a park that is not populated is considered to be okay as well. The fresh air will likely benefit you too.
- Educate yourself about Covid-19. I recommend exploring the CDC or WHO websites. Take the recommended precautions, and share that information with the people around you. There is a lot of misinformation making the rounds on social media. Make sure to confirm any advice you come across on these reputable sites, so you can ensure that you are not spreading incorrect information.
- Take breaks from watching the news. While it is important to stay informed, the around the clock coverage can be upsetting, and may increase your anxiety.
- Finally, focus on the things for which you are grateful in your life. A daily gratitude practice, either alone or as a family, can be grounding, and a great way to connect with your loved ones. Focus on kindness and compassion during these challenging times. As this quote from Herman Melville says, “We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men.”