Change is a scary thing, especially when it is unexpected and drastic. The corona virus (COVID-19) is currently one of the most stressful issues that has been affecting both adults and children. Many of you may be:
- Worrying about your health and that of people close to you
- Anxiety created by changes in your habits; sleeping, eating, working, school, sports
- Difficulty concentrating on tasks or sleeping
- Worsening of health issues you are already suffering from
- Worsening of mental health problems (depression, anxiety, etc…)
- Increasing your use of substances such as alcohol, tabacco products or other drugs
- Feeling hopeless or lonely.
You are not alone. Many feel the same way. It is unavoidable to not feel some type of impact. You probably know at least one person that has either become sick or even passed away. The secondary impact of loss of job, loss of income, loss of social contacts, loss of routine and the fear of catching something can be very overwhelming. No one is left unscathed. The important thing is to stay safe, take care of your health and mind, while at the same time trying to follow the rules that are put in place to protect everyone.
Reach out to your social contacts. Now is a good time as ever to go through your phone and call people you have haven’t touched base with a while. Find out how they are handling this ‘new way of life’. You can always do a zoom happy hour.
Interacting with people as you go through your day (feeling connected to something). During your time at home, see if you can talk to your neighbours through the fence or balcony. Some have started to sing or bang pots on balconies at a special time. Any type of activity that can help you feel connected to others while social distancing can help make this time pass quicker.
Eat healthy. It is easy to prefer eating a bag of chips than to make yourself a sandwich. Eating a well balanced meal can improve your mood and lower stress. Maybe you can use some of this time to learn to cook some delicious and healthy recipes.
Get enough sleep. It is normal have a distruption in your sleep patters, while trying to adjust to a new schedule. But, it is important to sleep enough hours helps to keep your immune system in check. Make sure you set a sleep schedule and get up as you would on a regular work day.
Limit your time watching news. You may be tempted to be glued to the news all day, in the hopes of hearing about some type of solution. Make sure you dedicate only a limited time to it. Mental health experts agree that the more you watch the news, the more it can affect your mood. Additionally, make sure you get news from different sources, not just one single news outlet. Each one will have a different take on what is happening. Try reading the news rather than watching tv.
Make sure you do activities that allow you to relax and recharge. Have you ever wanted to learn about a new hobby? Have some do-it-yourself project you wanted to tackle? Now may be a good time as any to get crafting.
Do some physical activity. There are many ways you can get your heartrate going. If you get a chance to walk outside for a little. Even doing something small like jumping jacks can help. The good news is there are tons of free online fitness courses that you can watch without ever leaving your home.
Avoid substances that affect your mood such as alcohol, tabacco and drugs. Not only do these substances negatively affect mood and behavior, but they also tend to make people lass with their inhibitions. This could result in behavior that is risky and thrill seeking. It could also result in the unrequired need to be exposed to Corona. Additionally, taking certain substances can also nullify the effects of the medicine given to you if you are exposed, and increase your chances of getting sicker.
Keep your regular routine. It is important to keep doing what you usual do. Easier said than done, I know. Get dressed and shower rather than stay in pjs all day. Eat regular scheduled meals, continue to work and study from home if possible.
Make sure you prioritize what you want to accomplish. Some people might have a large list of things they want to do, now that they have some down-time. Make sure you don’t get overwhelmed, make yourself a list, and cross out those things you get done.
Don’t beat yourself up about what you didn’t do. You might have difficulty completing all the things you have set out to do. It’s ok if you don’t do them in the time you were planning. Just because you have some extra time at home does not mean you have to get everything done right away. Remember your inability to concentrate on tasks, may be, because you have a lot of worrying thoughts. So just do what you can.
Focus on positive things that are happening in your life. It is important to focus on the things that are working well. Is your family healthy? Do you still have a home? Are you able to spend some quality time with loved ones? Do you finally have a chance to watch those shows you always wanted to watch? Are you alive and able to see another day? Things always change. Remember, this situation is not forever.
Why It is Important to Maintain Social Connections
Corona has changed the way we live. Stay-at home advisories, shutting down of non-essential business, social distancing-these are all things that have had an impact on people. Apart from the loss of income which has a staggering effect, one of the main reasons this has been so hard is the loss of social connections. There are still ways you can engage with people. It will help make this period less lonely and happier.
There is a difference between social distancing and social connecting. Connecting to others means sharing moments even if they are small and few in-between. During this new normal, socially connecting with others means being more intentional.Social distancing means being physically at a safe distance from someone that is not living in the same household as you or someone that might be sick.
-Connect with people you know. There are many ways you can connect to those you know. Facetime, zoom, facebook-rooms are all ways you can see and chat with friends. Talking to your neighbor from across the yard or balcony. Spending some time chatting with your co-workers about something not only related to work (of course always within limits). This time can be used to make deeper connections since most people do have a bit more time on their hands. Use the time it would take to commute, to talk to someone you may not have had contact for a while.
–Doing something for others. Studies have shown that there is a psychological reward that is experienced when helping others, it actually adds to our happiness. Helping a neighbor with their groceries, calling up a friend who you knows needs extra support. Volunteering at a local drive through food bank, fostering a pet or even just donating are all things that can increase your happiness quotient.
-Connecting with strangers. Connection does not only have to be done with people you know. There are ways you can connect to others that you do not even know. Smile or wave at someone on your afternoon walk. Say a nice word to the delivery person or talk to someone in the grocery aisle.
Intimacy in the Age of Corona
Many things have changed, yet innate human need for for sex and intimacy, has not. Some of my single clients have mentioned to me how difficult it is to be intimate with someone when you cannot meet them in person. Yes, currently we cannot go out and meet someone in a bar or meet someone for a coffee, or even invite them over. I agree, it definetely is a challenge, but it forces us to express ourselves differently both in a romantic, as well as a sexual way.
We are in an era of getting things quickly. Gone are the days of letter writing. During those days, people would get to know each other slower. They would ask more questions and take longer to be sexually intimate. Could it be that Covid-19 has pushed us back to the old ways; where people would spend months getting to know each other before jumping into bed.
This is a good time to actually get to know someone. Talk to them via phone, text and facetime. Get to know them first before sleeping with them. Humor and character will become much more important than just the physical aspect of a person.
Lastly, the safest person to be intimate with is actually yourself. Learn about your body. Don’t be shy to explore. Whether you have a partner or not. The only one that really knows what they want is you.
Recognizing when you need extra help
It is normal to feel stressed out during a time like this. We all have different reactions and some may experience that their mental health issues have amplified during this time. There are many challenges that people are faced with currently. Money, child care, lack of freedom, disruption of usual routines, spending too much time with members of your household, etc.. It is normal to feel a sense of loss and fear of the future.
Need Help? Or Want to Help Someone?
You are not alone in this, and if you feel overwhelmed by your emotions please reach out to a friend or family member. There are many different resources at your disposal:
- Ask for help from neighbours, there has been an increase in posts on Nextdoor.com about neighbours helping neighbours.
- Visit the Disaster Distress Helpline (www.samhasa.gov/disaster-preparedness) or call 1-800-985-5990 or you have the option to text TalkWithUs to 66746
- VISIT THE NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENECE HOTLINE (www.thehotline.org) google.coor call 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224
- -If you feel that you may harm yourself or others please call 911.
Last but not least, there are many counselors at your disposal. If you have a counselor, reach out to them and ask for a free or shorter consult, if necessary. Or find out which counselors are under your insurance. Last but not least, if you are a healthcare provider, know that there are free options for you such as Talkspace.com. We are all in this together.