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March 25, 2020

Coping with COVID-19

Written by: Kasey Mitchell, MSW, LCSW

In the last few weeks, a lot of us have seen rapid change to our daily lives. Children are home from school; food and retail industries have change to “to-go” methods only; some of us are working from home or may have lost employment; and many of us are now using video technology like Skype or Zoom to communicate with others.

With social distancing, we’ve also reduced our contact with others and for many of us, this means a large reduction in our activities. A huge portion of our mental health comes with balance – balancing work vs. home life, social vs alone time, physical health, enjoyable activities, pampering, etc. Now that gyms, restaurants, retail stores, and hair and nail salons are closing or significantly limiting their functions, a lot of us are being cut off from the things that have been helping us maintain balance. With now being a time of such high stress and having so many unknowns, keeping life as stable as possible can seem overwhelming. Despite life changing so rapidly in such a short time period, there are a lot of things we can still do to try to maintain some semblance of normalcy in our lives during this period of social distancing and/or quarantine.

Just because we are being encouraged to distance ourselves from others doesn’t mean that we are entirely trapped in our homes.  Many of our normal routines can be adapted to our current circumstances. As long as we maintain a safe distance from others (about 6 feet apart) and limit contact (no more than 10 minutes), we are taking appropriate precautions to reduce risk.

Instead of hitting the gym… take a walk or run in your neighborhood and even say “hi” to neighbors as you pass, as long as you follow the guidelines of social distancing. If you have a dog, this may be a good opportunity for them to get out of the house as well.  There are also fitness apps such as “Deck of Cards” which can be helpful and providing exercises so that you don’t have to think of them yourself.

Instead of meeting friends for a meal… we can still be connected in other ways. Using Skype or FaceTime or other technology, we have a lot more options for connections than we used to.  Skype while sharing a meal and catch up on the week; watch a TV show together while on the phone and get each other’s reactions; play Words with Friends or other games together; share recipes and try new food options.

Instead of heading to the salon or spa to pamper yourself… look into at-home options. You can make a lot of different face masks, hair masks, or scrubs using items probably already in your kitchen. Take a warm bubble bath. Give yourself a manicure or pedicure – even let your child paint your nails or pick your color. Get a foam roller and roll out those muscles or look into self-massage options. Use candles or other scents for aromatherapy. Try some new hair styles or techniques.

Maybe trying something entirely new… use an app like “Duolingo” to learn a new language, practice meditation using an app like “Calm,” “Head Space” or “Stop, Breathe and Think.”  Look up yoga videos online (YouTube has lots of free ones). Binge watch a new series. Get some of those “honey do” projects done around the home. Get Spring cleaning done early. Focus on increased family time – have game nights, play Wii bowling together. On nice days, sit outside with a cup of coffee and a book, soak up a little sunshine (and Vitamin D).

Although life has changed a lot in the past few weeks, we can still try to keep our routines as normal as possible. Now is a time of high anxiety and unknowns which means it is more important than ever to ensure we are taking good care of ourselves both physically and mentally. Self-care is also an important piece of managing anxiety, depression or even just day-to-day life. It’s easy to see this time as a lot of losses, but maybe you can find that there’s a lot of opportunity to gain as well.

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