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The quarantine time has been extended through April.  It is absolutely normal to feel uneasy, bored, frustrated and so many other things.  Here are a Mental Health Wellness Tips during these times of isolation:

Stick to a routine.  Go to sleep and wake up at a reasonable time, write a schedule that is varied, and includes time for school as well as self-care. Write out your plans for the next day before bed. Get showered and dressed in comfortable clothes, wash your face, brush your teeth.  Don’t hang out in your PJ’s all day.
Get out at least once a day for at least thirty minutes.  If you are concerned about contact, try first thing in the morning or later in the evening. Get your heart rate elevated for at least 30 minutes, which is good for your mood and energy.
Reach out to others every day. Try to do FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, phone calls, texting—connect with other people to seek and provide support. We are all in this together and need human connection. We are practicing physical distancing, but can still be social. Maybe host a watch party or a virtual movie night. What other things could you do?
Stay hydrated and eat well.  Stress and eating often don’t mix well, and we find ourselves over-indulging, forgetting to eat, and avoiding food.  Drink plenty of water, eat some good and nutritious meals (eat a rainbow of food). Learn how to cook something new.
Give everyone the benefit of the doubt and a wide berth.  A lot of cooped up time can bring out the worst in everyone.  Each person will have moments when they will not be at their best.  It is essential to move with grace through blowups, to not show up to every argument you are invited to, and not to hold grudges and continue disagreements.  Everyone is doing the best they can to make it through this.
Find your own retreat space.  It is vital that people think through their own separate space for schoolwork and relaxation.  Make sure your workstation is comfortable, and you are in a relaxed position. Consider a stand- up workstation. Limit your distractions too.
Lower expectations and practice radical self-acceptance.  We are doing too many things at this moment, under fear and stress.  This does not make a formula for excellence.  Instead, give yourself what psychologists call “radical self-acceptance”: accepting everything about yourself, your current situation, and your life without question, blame, or pushback.  You cannot fail at this—there is no roadmap, no precedent for this, and we are all genuinely doing the best we can in an impossible situation. 
Limit social media and COVID conversation. One can find tons of information on this to consume, and it changes minute to minute.  The information is often sensationalized, negatively skewed, and alarmist.  Find a few trusted sources that you can check in with consistently, limit it to a few times a day, and set a time limit for yourself on how much you consume.
Notice the good in the world, the helpers.  There is a lot of scary, negative, and overwhelming information to take in regarding this pandemic.  There are also a ton of stories of people sacrificing, donating, and supporting one another in miraculous ways.  It is crucial to counterbalance the heavy information with hopeful information. 
Help others.  Find ways, big and small, to give back to others.  Support restaurants, offer to grocery shop, check-in with elderly neighbors, helping others gives us a sense of agency when things seem out of control. 
Find something you can control and control the heck out of it.  In moments of significant uncertainty and overwhelm, control your little corner of the world.  Organize your bookshelf, purge your closet, create a playlist. It helps to anchor and ground us when the more significant things are chaotic.
Find a long-term project to dive into.  Now is the time to learn how to play the keyboard, put together a huge jigsaw puzzle, start a 15 hour game of Risk, paint a picture, read a book for pleasure, binge watch an 8-season show, crochet a blanket, solve a Rubix cube, or develop a new town in Animal Crossing.  Find something that will keep you busy, distracted, and engaged in taking breaks from what is going on in the outside world.
Engage in repetitive movements and left-right movements.  Research has shown that repetitive movement (knitting, coloring, painting, clay sculpting, jump roping, etc.), especially left-right movement (running, drumming, skating, hopping), can be effective at self-soothing and maintaining self-regulation in moments of distress.
Find an expressive art and go for it.  Our emotional brain is very receptive to the creative arts, and it is a direct portal for the release of feeling.  Find something that is creative (sculpting, drawing, dancing, music, singing, playing) and give it your all.
Find lightness and humor in each day.  There is a lot to be worried about, and with good reason.  Counterbalance this heaviness with something funny each day: cat videos on YouTube, a stand-up show on Netflix, a funny movie—we all need a little comedic relief in our day, every day.
“Chunk” your time at home, take it moment by moment.  We have no road map for this.  We don’t know what this will look like in 1 day, 1 week, or 1 month from now. Engage in a strategy called “chunking”—focusing on whatever bite-sized piece of a challenge that feels manageable.  Whether that be 5 minutes, a day, or a week at a time—find what feels doable for you and set a timestamp for how far ahead in the future you will let yourself worry.  Take each chunk one at a time and move through stress in pieces.
Remind yourself daily that this is temporary.  It seems in the midst of this, and it will never end.  It is unsettling to think of the road stretching ahead of us.  Just remember, we will return to feeling free, safe, busy, and connected in the months ahead.
Find the lesson.  This whole crisis can seem sad, senseless, and at times, avoidable.  When psychologists work with trauma, a key feature to helping someone work through said trauma is to help them find their agency, the potential positive outcomes they can affect the meaning and construction that can come out of destruction.  What can each of us learn here, in big and small ways, from this crisis?  What needs to change in ourselves, our homes, our communities, our nation, and our world?

Just remember, anxiety is a product of the unknown and feeling out of control. There are many unknowns right now, but…these items listed above are things you can control. Let’s not fixate on what we can’t control.  It is normal to feel abnormal in a situation that is not normal! We are all in this together and will get through this together.

By:  Dr. Eileen M. Feliciano, a doctoral level Psychologist in NYS with a Psy.D. in the specialities of School and Clinical Psychology.

 

 

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We all know the emergence of COVID-19 creates great risk to our physical health.  The Governor has issued strict guidelines to avoid contracting and spreading of this virus, which is unfortunately necessary.

If we live in areas that are prone to hurricanes and tornadoes we are given a little advance notice.  The same applies to other foul weather and even wildfires.  But, the majority of us, even faced with impending disaster, could ever have imagined being told to shelter-in-place for at least fifteen days.

The fear and uncertainty we are all feeling is for our health and the health of our friends and loved ones.  It’s for our financial well-being as well.  AND, the isolation and inability to see our family, friends and church community is depressing.

The Federal Government is doing what it can do give us a little financial stability during this period of uncertainty which does help in dealing with this situation; however, what can you do to help yourself emotionally, physically and spiritually?

EMOTIONALLY

  • Remind yourself this situation is temporary.
  • Don’t stuff your feelings – let them out by writing them in a journal.  Also, keep in touch with friends and family members by phone or messaging platforms.  (Better yet, find out how to use visual means – Skype, Facetime, etc.
  • Declutter your house – it is Spring Cleaning time anyway!
  • Read a book – one you probably have stuffed somewhere because you could never find the time to read it.
  • Be creative in the kitchen.
  • Play board/card games with those in your household.  If you are alone, there are many on-line games you can play with others.
  • Put together a puzzle, crotchet, embroider, color in an adult coloring book.  (All available on-line).
  • Watch a comedy movie.
  • Take a relaxing bubble bath.
  • Go through old photos and reminisce.
  • Listen to your favorite music.  YouTube is a great site for this!
  • Maintain your sense of humor … laughter is the best emotional outlet ever!

PHYSICALLY

  •  Exercise! You can find all sorts of exercise programs on-line.
  • Take a walk that falls within the social distancing guidelines.
  • Do not overindulge in alcohol.
  • Eat healthy

SPIRITUALLY

  •  Pray and Meditate
  • Read scripture and devotionals
  • Attend on-line church services.
  • If you are on Facebook or other social platforms, join a prayer group.

BE PROACTIVE

  •  Check on elderly neighbors or those who live alone. If they can’t get out at all, ask if you can pick them up needed items.
  • Make some soup/stew for elderly shut-ins…or baked goods. Let them know it is coming and you can leave it on their porch.
  • Reconnect with old friends
  • Post spiritual and positive messages on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  • Sew masks to donate – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdVO9emZhyQ
  • Put out your American Flag
  • If you have spiritual t-shirts – wear them while walking.
  • Support local small restaurants by getting take-out.
  • When at the grocery store, smile and thank the shelf-stockers, cashiers and other workers.
  • If you are driving and see a delivery truck, give them a “thumbs up”.

Please know although we cannot meet in person we are available via e-mail at rachelshope@outlook.com. Send us a message with your phone number and we will be more than happy to give you a call. You are not alone.