We are living in interesting times. It seems as though over a weekend our lives have completely changed. And just as suddenly, we have had to adapt as a community for the greater good. Social distancing has been recommended globally as a means of “flattening the curve”. It’s one of the best ways to stop the rapid spread of Covid-19. Not to mention, keep our hospitals and health care systems stable. But with social distancing can come feelings of anxiety and uncertainty, especially when you’re alone allowing your thoughts to ruminate. Here are some of our favorite ways we’re staying sane during social distancing.
Taking Care of Ourselves First
Before you go looking at Pinterest and all the ways you can organize your pantry, we recommend you take a day or two to simply take care of yourself. It’s normally around this time of year that many of us are feeling symptoms of burnout. We collectively set goals and resolutions at the beginning of the new year. We work and grind to reach them, as the cold weather and short days make it easier to focus until the sun is shining more consistently.
Taking care of yourself can look different for different people. It can be a focus on actually getting enough sleep (especially if you no longer have a long commute into work – hit that snooze button!). Or it can look like trying a new, nutritious recipe that forces you to get reacquainted with your kitchen. Taking care of yourself also means taking your recommended medications (if you’re on any) and avoiding any unhealthy coping mechanisms your fear may be pushing you towards. Essentially, it’s a means to find your baseline, filling your own cup to keep your physical, mental, and spiritual being alive and well.
Growth and Learning
Now is a great time to learn something new. And yes, while there are a number of people using this time to learn an entirely new language from nothing, you don’t need to set such a lofty goal. Like taking care of yourself, growth and learning come in many shapes and forms as well. Instead of binging The Office for the umpteenth time, try a documentary on a subject you like. Look at the plethora of free tutorials that have been circulating the internet or take it a step further and try SkillShare or Master class. Listen to that podcast you downloaded but never had time to listen to. Read a new book or listen to the audio version. Give your brain something new to try to understand – you may find a new interest or hobby out of it!
Stay Well – Physically, Mentally, Spiritually
For many, social distancing is hard because humans are naturally social creatures. It’s hard for many to be alone (or be alone with the same few people) as you don’t have the same daily distractions to keep you from your not so favorite thoughts. We encourage you to try and find a routine that works for you. Try these things to help keep your whole being well during this time:
Get Moving (Physical)
You don’t actually need a gym to stay active. A simple search on YouTube results in a number of home workouts you can try for free! Local gyms are adapting quickly as well, and many are offering virtual classes and virtual personal training (local businesses are suffering right now, the more we can collectively support them now, the better off we will all be once this is over). If Tabata, HIIT, and other intense workouts aren’t for you, this is a great time to try a new form of physical activity like yoga or mat Pilates.
Whether or not you were in therapy prior to the outbreak, utilizing tele-mental health resources is a great option for those suffering from more anxiety, stress, depression, etc. than normal. Practices are also adapting quickly and are leaning into virtual sessions as a means to help keep clients encouraged and supported. Apps like Headspace and Calm are also great if they sound like more your speed.
Staying Consistent and Positive (Spiritual)
When the world feels overwhelming and uncertain, a great exercise is to think about all the things you do have power over right now. This includes things like your mindset, work ethic, wellness, and language (are they positive or negative). And we encourage you to stay away from negative coping mechanisms like online gambling and gambling, drinking, and partaking in recreational drugs.
The Party Isn’t Necessarily Over
Just because you can’t be physically social doesn’t mean you can’t be social at all. Now is the best time to reinvent your social life using virtual platforms and other technology. Get your friends together in a group chat (if that sort of thing doesn’t overwhelm you!) or redownload your Words with Friends app to stay connected without the need for excessive chatting. With that said, dive into the world of online gaming and connect that way. Host a virtual dinner party with your friends who like to cook, or simply FaceTime them while you prep and cook dinner. If you need some extra motivation to do that exercising we talked about earlier, get a friend on facetime and do the home workout together. This is a great time to finally text that friend you’ve been meaning to catch up with or devote more than 5 minutes for a phone call.
Keeping Sane While Social Distancing with CPA
Our mental state – whether negative or positive – has a direct impact on our health. Studies have shown that a negative mindset can predict mental health issues and negatively impact our lifespan. And while staying positive does make us happier, the mindset can also help keep us healthy. Remember, our wellness is a cycle. The stronger the momentum in your cycle of wellness, the easier it is to continue with. Having the flexibility and confidence to not let one “mistake” derail their positive direction only adds to this optimal health. Reversing the flow of a negative cycle of wellness is a difficult task, but it isn’t impossible.
And it’s definitely easier when you have someone walking the path with you. If you feel you are struggling, know you aren’t alone, and we want to join you on your journey! The offices of Cristina Panaccione and Associates are closed for now, but we are offering tele-mental health services at this time. So check out our videos to learn more about how we can help you find sanity while social distancing.
* This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please contact a medical professional for advice.
Lan Griffith – MA, LPC, NCC, EMDR Basic Trained
Imagine you are on a hike. It is warm and sunny at 70 degrees. You have your water bottle in hand, your sunglasses secured on your face, and your shoes tied. You and your friend have planned this trip together for so long and finally, it’s here. As you walk, you begin thinking about that vague text message you received and begin to question its meaning. Suddenly, you are no longer having fun; you are fixated on getting back to your phone. As your chest tightens, you go through the motions of the hike, not fully taking in the wilderness. Conversation falls flat because the tunnel vision has set in. What once was an afternoon designated to a carefree outdoor experience is now rushed. Moments like this happen more than you would like to admit. Life feels like a string of commitments that feel overwhelming to handle. You try your best in this uphill battle.
If this sounds familiar, we can work together at your pace and comfort level through a person-centered approach. I find this works best individually with clients over years old. Together, we will use creative, strength-based techniques to explore solutions. I have spent over 5 years in the counseling field. During this time, I have worked in the following settings: suboxone clinic, children and youth services, residential adolescent treatment, registered adolescent sex-offenders treatment, West Virginia University college counseling, drug/alcohol treatment, and mental health counseling. In addition to these experiences, I made it a priority to specialize in Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) through an EMDRIA approved trainer. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Transactional Analysis (TA), Motivational Interviewing (MI), Informed Energy Focused Therapy (EFT) (i.e. tapping), and Reality Therapy are amongst the other treatments I can provide. You are your greatest investment and I want to help you work towards your authentic self.