Lately, we have plenty of time to wonder and worry about what the future may hold. Everyone has an opinion, there is endless news coverage and we’re not sure what to think.
The isolation doesn’t help.
So how do we deal with the worry that replays on an endless loop before bed or throughout the day?
1. DO EVERYTHING YOU CAN TO STAY SAFE AND HEALTHY. While much about the novel coronavirus is still unknown, there are tangible things we know will keep us safe and healthy. First and foremost, stay at home.
We know that the virus has been particularly tough on seniors and those with underlying medical conditions. So staying home and eliminating physical contact with others right now is the best way to ensure you aren’t being exposed.
If possible, ask a family member or friend to pick up your groceries and essential items, or order them online from your grocery store and pick them up curbside. You can also have them delivered. If you’re not sure how to do this, your store of choice will have instructions on their web page, or you can always ask a family member or friend for help.
Continue to take care of yourself by getting enough rest, eating nutritious foods and staying connected with loved ones via phone, video calls, email and/or texts.
Taking care of yourself and doing everything you can to stay healthy allows you to feel some sense of control in a time of uncertainty.
2. PUT A LIMIT ON HOW MUCH NEWS YOU WATCH AND READ. It’s good to stay informed, but we can become overwhelmed when we are hyper-focused on something that’s out of our control.
And coronavirus is definitely out of our control for the time being.
So, find a handful of reputable news sources you trust, then decide on how often you will check them and how long you will spend watching or reading. Limiting your exposure will help you watch/read for the facts you need, then move on.
The World Health Organization has encouraged people to choose reliable sources and check only once or twice a day.
3. HELP SOMEONE ELSE. Have you noticed how helping someone else takes your mind off your own troubles? Us, too.
In fact, according to Psychology Today, kinder people actually live longer, healthier lives. And people who volunteer experience fewer aches and pains.
If you’re a seamstress, make some masks for your local hospital, senior center or for family and friends. Send a handwritten note thanking a healthcare worker or a neighbor who brought you groceries. Check in on others who are alone at home with phone calls or emails.
What are your gifts and how can you share them?
4. MAKE A PLAN. If you lie in bed at night and worry about what will happen, it might help to make a list of some of the things you can do to prepare for extended social distancing.
Learn how to order groceries and toiletries online or arrange for regular deliveries from a family member or friend. The same goes for medications.
Every time your mind wanders to a worry, write down something you can do to address it and feel more prepared.
5. KEEP A JOURNAL OR WRITE LETTERS. Writing things down is cathartic. It allows you to process your thoughts and work through problems, ideas and solutions.
Studies have found that journal writing can lead to better sleep, stronger immunity and more self-confidence. It can even, according to James W. Pennebaker, a social psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin and pioneer in writing therapy, help wounds heal faster.
Write for yourself or write to someone else. Either way, the writing will be a way to get things out of your head and out into the world.
6. REMEMBER AND PAY MIND TO THE SIMPLE THINGS. A lot is changing, but some things will always be comforting, relaxing and fun.
Get a cup of tea and watch the sunrise or set. Make a list of your favorite movies, books or music, then one by one, check them off your list. Get out your paints and create something beautiful. Call a friend who makes you laugh. Take a brisk walk or dance in your kitchen. Cuddle with your beloved dog or cat. The point is, do something to make you happy.
7. PRACTICE THE 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 MINDFULNESS TECHNIQUE.
We just learned about this technique or grounding tip not too long ago. It’s a brilliant way to stop anxious thoughts and focus on the here and now. First, slow down and pay attention to your breathing. Then...
Then notice how much more relaxed you feel. Right?
8. ASK FOR HELP.
Easier said than done. Asking for help can feel like a weakness (it’s not). Or like you’re imposing on someone (you’re not). Fear can get the best of us, even as others are looking for ways to share their gifts or show how much they care.
Sometimes just talking with someone we trust takes us out of our own thoughts and helps us see things from a new perspective. As Maya Angelou once said, 'There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.'
We can all do so much more together than we can ever do alone.
We hope you find ways to stay healthy, connect and relax. Please share your favorites with us. And remember, we’re here for you if you need us.