by Melissa Skinner, MA, LCPC
1. Limit Exposure to Media
Being informed is important. It allows us to make important decisions to keep ourselves and our families safe. Pick two reliable news sources and check in on them once a day. It is not helpful to stay plugged into the media, listening to news about the pandemic all day.
2. Be Intentional with Thoughts and Words
Be intentional about how much time you spend thinking about the virus and talking about it with others. Sometimes redirecting thoughts towards an engaging activity or some form of physical exercise can help to serve as a healthy distraction.
3. Focus on the Present
If you’re feeling stuck and experiencing negative thoughts, feelings and body sensations, try bringing yourself back to the here and now. To ground yourself, focus on your 5 basic senses. What do you see, smell, hear, touch and taste in the present moment? Try rubbing a soft blanket and notice how it feels between your fingers. With focused attention on what is happening to you physically, either in your body or in your surroundings, you’ll be able to bring yourself back to the present moment. This is a useful technique, when you are feeling trapped by thoughts that are causing anxiety. Once you are back in the moment, ask yourself some reframing questions such as, “What is safe right now in my world?” or “What is ok right now?” and “What am I grateful for today?”.
4. Be Kind to Yourself
Your first reaction to whatever you may be going through, is your own internal reaction. If that is one of kindness and acceptance, it makes things a lot easier. If you immediately judge yourself or your anxiety, it adds another layer of suffering. Would you judge a friend who came to you feeling anxious or would you treat them with kindness and love? Treat yourself with the same grace and compassion that you would a friend. If you are wound up and feeling anxious, put one hand on your chest and one on your heart and say something kind to yourself like, “These are very unusual and difficult time, but this will pass and I am doing the best I can under the circumstances.” Commit to continued self-kindness through this ordeal.
5. Be Kind to Others
If you know someone that is quarantined, reach out and extend emotional support. Call, FaceTime, email, or text. Let others know that you are thinking of them. Continue staying connected to family and friends and nurture your support system. One of the silver-linings of this type of community-wide crises, is the experience of unity, togetherness and support that we can gain from one another.
6. Tap into your Resilience
What emotional, mental, or physical mountains have you climbed in the past? What adversity have you been faced with before and made it through? If you’ve made it this far in your life, you’ve most likely had to overcome some obstacles to get to where you are. Know that the same grit and strength that got you through challenges in the past, will get you through this too.
7. Seek Help from a Professional
Reach out and get the support of a trusted professional. If you’re concerned about leaving your home, many therapists are now offering TeleHealth counseling sessions. Be aware there is always someone available to listen, do not be afraid to share your story. You are not alone. The National Crises Hotline number is 1-899-273-8255
Melissa Skinner is the founder of Northwest Counseling & Wellness and a Licensed Clinical Therapist working with children, teens and families. To schedule a free phone consultation call 872-222-3132. Now offering TeleTherapy. Call to inquire.