For those of us who already struggle with fighting off anxiety and depression, the onset of this “plague” and social isolation may seem like too much to bear. If we are alone at home all day or at home with people we love but aren’t the easiest to get along with, it may seem even harder. Here are some suggestions for people whose anxiety might have “hit the roof” or at the very least has increased during this time.
- Limit your exposure to the news and social media feeds about the virus and its negative impact. Take breaks from the news and education.
- Resist the perfectionist pressure of the perfect quarantine. You may feel pressure to be super productive during this time. You see on Facebook that your friend and her husband have created an adorable bar in their garage, friends are creating brand new recipes, and some parents are perfectly homeschooling their children while also working from home and keeping up on the laundry. Chances are they are all frazzled, stressed, and worried too. Do what you need to do. Get through this without being too hard on yourself.
With that being said, here are some suggestions to help you not slip into becoming a depressed sloth or a stressed-out shivering chihuahua:
Create somewhat of a schedule
I found forcing myself to get up, showering, and putting on some adult clothes rather than my airplane pajamas helps a lot. I also now make sure I reach out to others with Facetime, Zoom, Skype. I just discovered last night’s Facebook video messaging. My 17-year-old niece set it up for us so we could have a fun online birthday party for my brother-in-law. We all looked like the intro to the Brady Bunch with our family members in squares on the screen. We laughed. Talked. Made plans for “when this all gets better”. Mostly planning what we should do this summer to replace the canceled family trip and how to use this newly found Facebook group messaging to have a surprise birthday party for my sister’s husband.
Parents, go easy on yourselves
If you have children don’t feel you have to be the super work-from-home, homeschool-teacher, and parent. You can’t. Many parents, mostly moms, are feeling really burned out, frazzled, and hard on themselves concerning this. Besides reading and memorizing, children learn through play and making things. They love to create their own science projects or they can find science or art projects online with things they have around the house or apartment. Some of my child patients are now learning how to do their own laundry or make simple recipes.
I was finding it hard to work out at home. I loved the group classes at the gym that kept me on a set schedule. After days of procrastinating, I told myself, “Ok you used to go to the gym Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at 12:15 pm. so from now on have the little home gym/mat area set up and work out on those days.” If you find that is not possible, then substitute sometime during that same day. Tell yourself, “This is non-negotiable” (ish). I bought myself a new dumbbell weight off from Amazon but when it arrived instead of being 25lbs it was 2.5lbs. My family tells me I don’t read things thoroughly enough.
Your mental health care is now even more important
Most therapists I know, including myself, are using HIPPA compliant teletherapy sites such as doxy.com and the majority of insurance companies are reimbursing for this. Many therapists are also offering sliding scales or reduced fees.
You can also find free meditation and yoga videos on YouTube and other free or inexpensive apps. Virtual tours of national parks and museums are also fun. Get outside. You can still go for nature walks and wave and smile at others while you stay 6 feet away. If you are stressed about finances, look online for a mortgage or rent plan. Different utility companies also offer help during this time. Possibly check into government low-interest loans if you need help for your small business.
Find ways you can help
Radio broadcasts have mentioned sewing groups where people can make masks for others. Some of my patients have been making meals for struggling families and dropping them off at the doorstep. Remember to reach out to grandma and grandpa or a lonely person in your community. People are more grateful than ever to know that someone cares for them. You too will feel better offering love and kindness to others.
All the best during this time. Stay safe. Physically and mentally.