DO manage your anxiety. Things like movement (walks or runs or hikes, outside and away from others), yoga (YouTube has great yoga videos, including restorative and yin yoga, “cardio” yoga, and a million other options), and meditation (Headspace and Insight Timer are great resources) are part of your self-care. The better you do with managing stress, the easier this will be on you, and frankly, on everyone you live with, talk to and love.
DO eat as well as you can. I know they may be harder to come by, but fresh fruits and veggies (or frozen), unprocessed foods, and lots of water. Minimize caffeine and alcohol.
DO pick up the phone and call those you love (or just like…or merely tolerate). Since before we were born, we responded to the sound of the human voice – that hasn’t changed. Reach out, make contact. This is especially important to those who may be feeling frightened. This includes those who are already facing health struggles, or the older friends and relatives who may feel particularly at risk. The sound of your voice will offer a lot of comfort at an upsetting time.
DO stick to routine as much as you can. This is especially true if your children are home with you. The more you create predictability, the easier it will be for everyone. If school work is to be done at home, help your children create, and stick to, a schedule, as they would at school.
DO balance time away from, and with, your partner. Let’s be honest, too much of your best friend is too much of your best friend. However, not enough is not better. If you are both working from home, make a point of having lunch together, but not to converse about household business or stress with the situation. Just hang out together.
DO change your clothes. Sure, hanging out in your jammies sounds great, but after a day or two of it, the lack of “shifting gears” is going to wear on you. Stick with your routine of getting up, showering, shaving, etc – whatever you do normally. You will feel better!
DO get creative with your resources. There are so many online recipes for “pantry” dishes (for example, https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/photos/cooking-from-the-pantry, https://www.cookinglight.com/food/quick-healthy/10-quick-easy-recipes-from-your-pantry, https://www.thespruceeats.com/pantry-recipes-for-busy-weeknights-4580223), homemade hand sanitizer (here’s one of many I found https://simplepurebeauty.com/9291/diy-alcohol-free-hand-sanitizer-with-aloe-and-essential-oil/), crafts and projects (for kids, https://www.thebestideasforkids.com/craft-ideas-for-kids/, https://hative.com/cool-science-project-ideas-for-kids/; and for adults, https://abeautifulmess.com/2013/07/20-one-afternoon-craft-ideas.html, https://www.favecrafts.com/Gifts/22-Easy-Craft-Projects-For-Adults). These links are just a couple from the bazillion you can find online.
DO follow all guidelines for social distancing, hand washing, disinfection of objects (including your phone – it’s pretty gross on a good day) strictly.
DO support your local businesses if you can. To-go and delivery orders are still available in most places. Locally owned stores and businesses are only going to survive if we support them. And if you can, tip generously. That barista where you buy your weekly (or daily) latte is frightened about the pandemic and its economic effects too.
DON’T over indulge in alcohol, substances and sweets. You will throw off your body’s own immune response and fill your belly with poorly nourishing foods instead of real fuel. You will also really mess with your sleep, making you crabby, impatient and more likely to get sick.
DON’T binge watch creepy shows …I am talking to you, fans of Law & Order, Black Mirror! It’s easy to just plug in and watch “one more episode” until it’s 2 am and you are jumping out of your skin. The last thing you need is to add to your emotional and physical stress response.
DON’T obsessively check the news. First thing in the morning and once in the evening will keep you informed. More than that will just cause upset and anxiety needlessly.
DON’T fill your time exclusively by being only online. It’s easy to start wandering around in the virtual world and not come up for air until you’ve been plugged in for hours. Unless you are doing required work, rest your eyes and brain every hour. Talk to friends and family in person or on the phone, throw a ball for the dog, tidy a closet, listen and move to some music – just do something non-tech related. Your body and mind will be healthier and happier.
DON’T online shop. You may be tempted by all the pretty shiny things online – but your income is likely taking a hit right now and when that bill comes you will be kicking yourself for spending unnecessarily. Instead of buying that goody right now, mark the site, come back to it in a few days.
DON’T take chances because you feel all wound up. Even if you are skeptical about the need for all the precautions, look out for yourself, your family and your community by sticking with the requested (required) protocol. Think about it like this…if you call 911, you want the fire department to send everything they might need to address the situation. Rather than sending the minimum response, you want the equipment to be adequate, or even too abundant. So now that your community leaders have said shelter in place, you can see that as the biggest fire engine. If that turns out not to be necessary it’s ok. But… if you need that “big” response and don’t get it, your care and your wellbeing are at risk.
Be the big engine and follow the guidelines!
DON’T hoard food, toilet paper, water, etc. If we buy what we need and no more, there is enough for everyone. Further, staring at your panic purchase every day will heighten your anxiety. Stock up for the week, not the year, when you go to the store. And BE NICE to the checker, bagger, and all the workers who are really stretching so we can buy what we need. Those folks are under a LOT of pressure.
DON’T blow up your sleep schedule. Stick as closely as possible to your regular day/night routine. When these isolation tactics are no longer necessary (hopefully soon), you will be happy you did!
Take good care and if your anxiety and worry are getting ahead of you, reach out! Many therapists are offering online services. If you are a California resident and want to set up a session with me, call today! (805) 541-4090.