Today we are all dealing with stressors in this era of COVID-19, a contagious virus. You are not alone, we are all in this together! Psychologists know that the most stressful thing for human beings is unpredictability in any situation. COVID-19 is unpredictable & does not discriminate. Indeed, the biggest weapon we have, is behavioral. These behaviors include: Stay at home, social distance, quarantine with your family, wash your hands frequently for 20 seconds each time, & disinfect surfaces in your home.
Humans can cope with various types of stressors for a short time, however, prolonged and unforeseen circumstances can lead to anxiety, feelings of helplessness and depression. I’d like to frame COVID-19, a life stressor, as a Challenge and Opportunity versus a Threat. Remember our thoughts/cognitions are under our control. I prefer that frame of mind because it gives us a path to cope each day versus turning to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. We can think of COVID-19 as a challenge to do all that we’re asked in order to mitigate, decrease the incidents of the virus and stay safe and healthy!
Currently, we may be overwhelmed with information regarding how to fend off getting the virus. We are constantly inundated with instructions on how and when to wash your hands. I have never washed my hands on any one day as much as I have in the past several weeks. I feel like a surgeon! Aside from all the cleaning and disinfecting, social distancing is a crucial part and is becoming the cornerstone of stopping this virus. We may be alone but we are united at this critical time working together to stay healthy. Some of us may be confined at home with our families which can lead to what we call cabin fever. I know it has for me! In the past, I hated going shopping but now that I can’t, I find myself craving those experiences! That’s what happens when something is “forbidden.” The forbidden fruit really becomes desirable! I have to give my list to my daughter to do the shopping. I am envious now, while in the past I was happy to hand anyone my list with such ease! Life is truly like a box of chocolates, we have to be flexible and yield to the unknown!
Structure and routine are necessary for all of us to experience some control and usefulness. Setting up routines & schedules for yourself and your family is important. Here are some suggestions to help you cope, stay calm and carry on.
Daily Tool Box Tips!
- Before you get out of bed: Start with stretching while focusing on deep breathing and with each breath repeating over and over in your head silently, “I feel safe and secure.”
- Coffee or breakfast time: I like to call this, “It’s not me first, it’s me too.” It’s valuable to take care of yourself at this time when we’re with our family 24/7. Find your space and time.
- Quality time with your family: Game night, movie night, a walk together while social distancing, is truly an opportunity for all of us to enjoy our families! Plan a daily family activity!
- Family Chores: Everyone shares in this by making their beds, meal planning, cooking, & cleaning up. It’s a good time to teach kids the importance of hygiene!
- Give yourself permission to rest/relax: Do a relaxation exercise once a day, for example: Sit comfortably and visualize an image of a beautiful garden or beach scene! Start with a deep breathing exercise by inhaling while counting from 1 to 4, then slowly exhaling while counting from 1 to 7. This kind of breathing releases muscle tension.
- Reach out & connect with someone: Call someone you usually don’t have time for or have not seen in a while. It’s fulfilling!
- Continue to enhance your specific community: Exchanging communication on a daily basis is beneficial.
- Be mindful of your feelings: Do not engage in watching TV all day (limit TV news time) and stop monitoring the numbers of COVID- 19, because that leads to a downward spiral. We will overcome this Pandemic. It is time-limited!
- “This too shall pass:” Use this mantra when you feel emotionally overwhelmed.
- Attend to your spiritual needs: Daily meditation and prayer are healthy. Try saying this, “Today, I’m giving all my problems to my higher power, so that I can be present & enjoy this day. I am releasing my worries.”
- Gratitudes help us cope better: Try writing, texting or sharing something you are grateful for with someone, morning and evening. I (Dr. Rad) text my pregnant daughter with gratitude every day, “today I am grateful for my health!” Engage or commit to a 30-day gratitude exchange with someone via text, it’s truly anchoring!
- Laughter is the BEST MEDICINE: Laugh each day, even smiling triggers physical well-being and positive neurotransmitters from our brain.
Sending you positive vibes and virtual hugs! We will step up to this Challenge with love, grace, and success in staying healthy!
Stay safe, until we meet again! Dr. Rad & Dr. Natasha