1) Routines/Rituals One's routine is particularly important at this time. A friend told me, she showers and dresses for work even though the commute is ten feet away. Routine creates reassurance in times of uncertainty. Current circumstances ask us to vary routines, which if done creatively, has a positive impact. Examples include walking instead of driving to the store and varying the route taken. Creating ritual(s) may indeed lead one to explore new energies, as people find a way to both start and end the day. It is an ideal time to stretch the imagination and think of ways to honor parts of the day through ritual.
2) Social Support In psychotherapy and in life, social support is always a mainstay of solid mental health. It is of particular importance during times of crisis. As a group therapist, my colleagues and I see this reality often. It is so important that individuals have others to lean on.
If social support is limited, or non- existent, seeking groups and other formalized online resources focused on social support, can and should be sought after. Reaching out to people out of concern (and perhaps out of the blue) has often been touching and mostly/always welcomed. In times of crisis and grief, to the best of one's abilities, all emotions are welcomed and attuned to. I encourage clients to voice frustration, annoyance, irritation and rage in ways that work for them, and if possible, the expression helps move through this difficult time.
3) "Information Diet"/Limit the news! The term "information diet" is now entering our vocabulary! It encourages everyone to consider creating healthy boundaries and limitations around information and news intake. A colleague said he tunes in to find out what new outrage is making the headlines each day, which for others may actually be unhelpful. Decide how much news is enough, and consider varying the sources, among television, online, reading and podcasts. Paying attention to what time of day you review the news can be significant as it may impact your mood, sleep, or other pertinent experiences during the day. Since we seem extra reliant on devices these days, make sure you have some access to "cloth" reading. Limiting your device time is essential to balance.
4) Humor At a time of such devastation and
despair, laughing is of vital importance! Hospice employees, on the front lines of death, dying and suffering, are often adept at humor. It helps balance the significance of their poignant work with time-outs and differing energy. Consider ways humor speaks to you and promote laughing.
5) Quiet the Mind/Meditation/Distraction Deepak Chopra has suggested "quieting the mind" is an essential tool available in response to crisis. Check out the many references online to Deepak Chopra for further elaboration. Have you put off meditation for months and now find it an excellent time to explore? Many apps are available online for a variety of meditation techniques; try experimenting to find an app that suits you. Astute Teachers' state: meditating for five minutes may be the exact right amount of time to begin with. Expect and normalize a degree of distractability, which is currently omnipresent and impacting everyone. Consider the source of surreal-ness in the world as necessitating some distraction rather than critique yourself for not being 100% present at all times!
6) Exercise/Eat Right O.k., we mostly know this drill well, or at least theoretically so. With the reality of increased time at home, its pleasing to see how creatively people are
feeding themselves! Suggestions abound online and through various venues both for creative, nutritious, food and exercise ideas. Gym goers lament the absence of their routines, but many alternatives exist, using simple household objects for exercise. One exercise video uses a chair and nothing else for a strenuous workout!
7) Do One Thing Nice for Someone Else I was struck by the simplicity and beauty of this suggestion. Perhaps you have seen pictures of candies set outside for delivery people who have an instrumental and challenging job. Notices are posted in neighborhoods offering to shop for the elderly. Thinking outside of oneself is a great tool for helping with both anxiety and depression.
8) Look for Inspiration/Faith/Express Gratitude/Look Forward to Something
It's impressive to note the many examples of inspiration in response to Covid-19. Notice what happens when you see or read about others who inspire us. A natural tendency is to share this inspiration and have others echo the sentiment. Faith is an instrumental part of many lives; clearly the importance now cannot be under emphasized and serves to help move many through crisis. When one makes a list of what one is grateful for, it inherently changes the moment. Some have made this part of their daily/weekly ritual with positive results. With so many plans canceled, it is vital to have something to look forward to. Of course we can't be sure of what the future holds, but holding value in the planning process can have a large impact on ones coping.
9) Consider Creativity If you have time on your hands, besides that wonderful task of cleaning out the closet, consider doing something creative. None of us, I assume, are expecting a Picasso in the making. Thinking outside the box may include writing, painting, chalk on the sidewalk, amongst many other viable and easy to access options.
10) Seek Meaning Through the process of slowing down,
reflection, and attention to detail, what might be learned about this shocking experience we are going through? Although this may very well be a luxury for people struggling with more immediate concerns, this is a potential opportunity of immense value. Lives are changing; lives are being challenged in many ways. I wish you well.