Staying Emotionally Healthy Throughout Social Distancing
Ginny Maril, a psychologist at The University of Texas at Austin Counseling and Mental Health Center, gives advice on staying emotionally healthy throughout social distancing.
Maril likens heightening emotions to a check engine light in a car:
Pretend you’re driving down the road. Your check engine light comes on. You’re given a choice: You can stop and call for help. You could drive to the nearest mechanic. You can also just ignore it and keep on driving.
Each choice has consequences. She continues:
If we ignore the light, chances are the consequences are going to be much worse than if we just pulled over or got our oil changed. Same thing goes for us as people.
Maril advises to pay attention to your personal warning signs: Do you get headaches? Do you get easily overwhelmed? Your body and your mind may be trying to tell you something needs attention.
When you notice your check engine light, take time to examine it. Maril recommends a three-step process:
- Take three deep breaths.
- Ask, “What are two things I can ask of myself or someone else right now that would feel helpful?” For example, maybe you need space or maybe you need company.
- Ask, “What is one thing I can do right now to show compassion for myself?”
Dealing With Uncertainty
Coping With Anxiety About Coronavirus
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it’s having on daily life. To cope, try to channel your energy into positive behaviors, recommends Carrie Barron, M.D.
Use Time Productively
Catch up on things you haven’t been able to get to: Clean out your closets, clear drawers, do paperwork. Connect with old friends, family and loved ones.
Establish New Routines
Structure’s really great for containing anxiety.
Follow Reliable Information Sources
Not everything you read is trustworthy.
Make a new or new-to-you dish using ingredients on hand. Use up old art supplies. Pick up an instrument. Or, if you’re feeling less than creative, simply listen to old songs or re-read books that have meant something to you.