Of course, we know that following rules related to social distancing and hygiene are the essential “things to do” at this time for your health. In terms of mental health, there are several other things that may be of benefit to keep in mind and practice on a daily basis. Remember that we get a chance to practice our best selves at this time, by being flexible, compassionate, and creative. Several things to keep in mind include the following:
- Remember that both mental and physical wellness are based on staying healthy. Make a commitment to daily exercise and eating a healthy diet, even when you are bored, anxious, or unable to have your typical routine (e.g., going to a gym).
- One benefit of being in this area is that we can continue to spend time in nature/outdoors year-round, and that we can still do this despite the virus! Getting sunshine, fresh air, and interacting with nature through hikes or beach walks are likely to enhance well-being and improve both emotional and immune system health.
- Practice meditation, yoga, or other mindfulness activities.
- Try to limit exposure to news throughout the day, and only engage in reliable news sources that focus on facts and not opinion.
- Consider other activities or practices you’ve wanted to do in the past but haven’t had time for. This mayde learning something new online, completing continuing education or training for work, or developing skills in the arts, music, or writing.
- Communicate with loved ones often by any means you can beyond email/texting (including telephone, facetime, skype/zoom). Seek out anyone you know with wisdom and experience to help give perspective. This will help lower stress and help with coping.
- Assess your finances, take appropriate steps to plan for gaps in income, and try to remain flexible in ideas and planning.
- For children and teens, concerns related to the virus should be communicated in an age appropriate fashion. This means not “flooding” someone with fears or worst predictions, but also answering questions honestly and explaining reasons why everyone is being asked to make changes/sacrifices in their lifestyle. It may be challenging to keep kids busy at this time, but also help them realize there is potential for bonding with siblings and spending time at home. Finally, all parents should be aware that their children may have signs of stress, such as irritability, trouble sleeping, and changes in appetite or energy level, and to seek advice regarding these situations and take action/consult with a professional if necessary.
Many resources are available to help you through this complex time. click here.
Santa Barbara County Psychological Association: (http://sbcpa.org/)Includes further resources and a list of practicing psychologists, many of whom are doing remote/telehealth sessions.