Here’s some great advice from our client, Dr. Janet Cox of Synapse, one of the most successful addiction rehab programs in the country.
10 TIPS FOR COPING WITH THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
We are currently living in a world of ambiguity and our brain does not like it at all. The unknown is viewed as a threat and throws our sympathetic nervous system into a fight, flight or freeze response. There are simple things that we can do daily to help ease the feelings of discomfort during these weeks and months ahead. These strategies will help ease our normal human response of survival and allow our brain and physical being to have a healthier response to these unprecedented times.
The 10 Tips are:
1. Validate This Experience
This is a time of universal health and economic crisis and feeling overwhelmed and ungrounded is a normal human response to these conditions. It helps to define, label and acknowledge your feelings and emotions rather than judging them as bad or good. Acceptance is the key here.
2. Strengthen the 4 Pillars of Self-Care
Daily self-care begins with proper nutrition, aerobic exercise, good sleep hygiene and meditation. Try to eat healthy avoiding excess sugar, caffeine and nicotine; get aerobic exercise to assist in regulating your emotions, schedule bedtime and wake-up times, and engage in meditation.
3. Develop Structure and Maintain a Routine
Whether working from home, doing schoolwork or retired, having a daily schedule is paramount. Our brain thrives with routines and having a structured day will keep you engaged and involved in your activities.
4. Practice Mindfulness
It is a well-known fact that staying in the moment is how we generate positive emotions. Fully engage in whatever activity you are performing and savor the positives moments.
5. Keep Balance in Your Day
It is imperative to have a stop and start to your workday or school day. Make sure to schedule time for other activities such as work; sleep; exercise; meal preparation and eating; personal hygiene and cleaning; connecting socially; and entertainment such as reading, listening to music and watching television. Limit the amount of input from news and social media outlets relying on facts based sources.
6. Look for Silver Linings
All situations can have silver linings if we look hard enough. Try to find positives in all your interactions no matter how dark it may seem and express gratitude every day.
7. Ask for Help
It may be difficult to do but asking for help is important during these difficult times. It means that we are human to need help, and it gives others the opportunity to feel good about helping someone else.
8. Keep Social Connections
Sheltering in place for extended periods of time can lead to isolation and loneliness. Try to reach out to others every day by using Facetime, Skype or other virtual platforms. Our brain likes to use all of our senses and having visual contact helps our brain to feel more connected and less isolated.
9. Help Others
Offering to help others is a great way to demonstrate our compassion and empathy. Perhaps it is a trip to the store for someone or a simple phone call to cheer up another person; helping someone else provides purpose and meaning and reinforces more positive neurochemical reactions in our bodies.
10. Maintain and Strengthen Your Spirituality
Having a strong spiritual life helps people feel hopeful, positive and grounded especially during uncertain times. Don’t forget to take care of your spiritual self just as your physical, emotional and mental parts need your attention.
Putting these 10 tips into practice will go a long way towards enhancing your self-care and overall well-being, not just during the COVID-19 pandemic, but going forward as a new world unfolds before us. Start today and be well.