As the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic become more pressing and the disruptions in life become imminent, conversations are becoming more focused on how daily life may change for those of us in the United States. As of the time of this writing, it seems likely that many of us could be spending lots of time at home, as events/gatherings are cancelled, schools are closing, and companies are implementing work from home policies. The following are practical tips to alleviate distress related to being stuck at home:
Plan What You Can.
If you haven’t already, complete an inventory of your supplies and go ahead and get what you need (but only what you need). This includes food, disinfecting supplies, and other necessities that you may run out of such as diapers or dog food. Go ahead and talk with your doctor about a plan to make sure you will have access to your medications when a refill is needed.
Many of us who end up at home will be losing the structure and routine that we are used to. This applies to adults and children. Our brain thrives with structure, consistency, and predictability and because much of this will be disrupted, we need to be intentional about creating it for ourselves. Be intentional about creating a daily schedule for yourself, have a plan for the day. If you have children, do what you can to keep their routines in place where possible. Know yourself and what you need- some people may thrive lounging in their pajamas for days on end, but others may need to wake up, shower, and get dressed daily in order to maintain mental wellness.
Don’t Ditch Your Calendar.
Continuing to use your calendar/planner can be a helpful tool to prevent losing track of days/time, promote feelings of control, and decrease the likelihood that you will get sucked into the vortex of Netflix on your couch or in the bed. Plan things to look forward to. This can be simple things like planning to watch a movie as a family one night, play a new game, eat a favorite meal, or schedule a phone chat to catch up with a friend. You can also plan productive activities such as cleaning out a different room each day.
Talk to Other Humans.
Being stuck in the house can feel very isolating and it is important to maintain social contacts even if you can’t physically be together. A good rule is to make sure you have a phone or video chat with at least one person outside your household per day. We are social beings and we need to rely on each other for support and healthy distractions.
We should still be able to spend time adequate outside while maintaining appropriate social distance. Take a walk in your neighborhood, or simply sit outside somewhere to experience the benefits of fresh air and sunshine.
We cannot control the circumstances around this pandemic, but we can control our attitude about it. Do what you can to find the silver lining, focus on the positives, and use the time wisely in whatever way you can. There is no denying that it will be disruptive and cause distress for lots of people, do your best to “make lemonade out of lemons.”
Talk to a Therapist.
If you are experiencing distress, or need extra support, you can be connected to a MindPath Care Provider through our telehealth program and see a therapist using your phone, tablet, or laptop. Visit mindpathcare.com/telehealth for more info.