FEAR AND TOILET PAPER
Anxiety in our culture seems to have significantly increased with the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing. When the world seems beyond our control, we all need to consider what is in our control. The empty store shelves would lead us to believe that currently people need to feel in control of how much toilet paper is in their homes. Okay. Makes sense. Here is a list of tips to consider, other than buying toilet paper, that may help you decrease fear during this pandemic:
1. Eat regular meals, paying attention to hunger and fullness. Many people graze all day long when left home without a plan. Others forget to eat. Sleep, energy level, mood, and body functioning can all be enhanced by mindfully eating at regular intervals.
2. Develop a structure to your days. Through the years I have observed that most people function better with some sort of daily structure. For example, this could mean wake and sleep times, morning plan, afternoon plan, and an evening plan with regular meals in between, or an hour by hour breakdown of work, learning, caretaking, self-care, and eating activities. Structure can contribute to a general sense of achievement and subsequent improved mood.
3. Don’t forget to move your body.
Gyms are closed. Social recreational activities may be off the table for now. That doesn’t mean sitting 24/7 is the only option. The options may be different than prior to the pandemic, but here are a few ideas: while maintaining social distancing take a walk or bicycle ride; take advantage of online exercise classes (both free and for a fee); or create your own plan with stretching, dancing, or other activities that you love. Blast the music and have a family dance party! Physical activity helps with sleep, energy, and mood.
4. Learn something new. Challenge your brain. If you are finding that you have “extra” time, consider what new skill or activity you would like to learn. Teach yourself with books or online material. Learn from family or friends in your home or through the telephone or video calls.
5. Connect with other people. Reach out to others on the phone, via email, social media, or video chatting and decrease the loneliness and depression that social distancing can create. Have a virtual party with family or friends on a video call. Even if you feel like you are not lonely, consider which loved ones could benefit from connection.
6. Help others. Consider becoming a helper. When you help others, your own mood can lift. Consider how you can help your family, friends, neighbors, community. Additionally, plenty of civic and religious organizations have galvanized ways to help others who are in need.
7. Consider your spiritual needs. Many religious institutions are offering live streaming and video conferencing services for prayer and religious services, coffee hours, and learning opportunities.
8 Relaxation. Physiologically you cannot be stressed/anxious and relaxed at the same time. Use one of many apps to help with guided meditations. Some of these are free or have a free trial period. Here is a small sample of apps to investigate: 10% Happier, Headspace, Calm.com, and Guided Mind. Also, check Youtube for other guided meditations. There are other forms of relaxation too such as Progressive Muscle Relaxation, Visualization Techniques, and other types of meditation.
9. Try not to catastrophize. These are scary times. Acknowledge the worry thoughts and try and let them go. This can be very difficult. Consider getting help from a psychotherapist to help decrease anxiety. Many therapists are utilizing telemedicine during this pandemic. Live life one day at a time to help you stay present, focused, and functioning.
10. Don’t forget joy! What is fun for you? What makes you laugh? What feels good? We all need joy, so do something you love!
While this is not an exhaustive list, it is a long enough list to get you started to feel more in control….and let’s remember to be grateful for what we do have.