Let's be real. These have been stressful and scary times for all of us. School has been canceled, some people have lost their jobs, we can't hang out with our friends, major events like prom, graduation, and birthday celebrations have been all been canceled too. There is lots of uncertainty, mixed messages from the media and family and friends and even worse people getting sick and dying. And it can feel impossible to try and find a way to be normal during all of this. And that is OK. These are some of the things that have helped me to find some balance in all of this craziness.
Let's Start With the Basics
First of all, what is wellness?
Everyone throws around the W word, but what does that really mean?
Oxford defines Wellness as:
the state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal.
Wellness is different for everyone. The things that make you happy and your own personal goals may be very different than other people. Wellness takes practice and time to figure out what ways work best. You are the expert ! If you feel off balance, the wellness wheel can be helpful to see what areas of wellness you can improve on or what parts are missing.
Knowledge is power!
Knowing more about COVID-19 and how you can protect yourself is the first step to finding balance. The CDC is a great place for accurate and timely information!
Stress during this time can involve fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones. Everyone doesn't respond to stress in the same way. Some people have:
Changes in sleep or eating patterns
Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
Worsening of chronic health problems
Excessive crying or irritation in younger children
Returning to behaviors they have outgrown
Excessive worry or sadness
Irritability and “acting out” behaviors in teens
Poor school performance or avoiding school
Difficulty with attention and concentration
Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past
Unexplained headaches or body pain
Recognize that your anxiety and emotions are completely normal
Missing out on events with friends, hobbies, or sports matches is incredibly disappointing
Feel your feelings
Validate the fears
Remember that everyone reacts differently
Focus on the facts
There is a lot of misinformation out there, and that breeds a lot of fear
Focus close to home and in your immediate area, don't overwhelm yourself keeping track of what is happening all over the world
COVID-19 is very out of our control and we feel more anxious when we aren’t in control.
Focus on ways (no matter how small) you can take control back
Practice good hygiene and practice self care
Structure your day
Focus on people, things or thoughts that bring happiness
Be supportive to others
Do what you need to do to feel safe
Physical Distancing- stay connected with family and friends from a distance at least 6 ft
Wear a mask and/or gloves
Wash your hands often
Cover your mouth when you cough.
Get your emotional support system in place
Take care of your basic needs and employ helpful coping strategies: rest during work or between shifts, eat healthy food and engage in physical activity
Stay connected with others and maintain your social networks
Have the emails and phone numbers of close friends and family
Stay connected via email, social media, video conference and telephone
Find new ways to connect with your friends
Find free online resources
Don’t feel the pressure to be productive
Everyone is talking about the weight they are losing, the business they are starting, the books the are reading - don't worry about everyone else
Focus on yourself and personal growth
Take this time to breath, to slow down, to reset
Try to learn how to do something new: start a new book or spend time practicing a musical instrument
Minimize media time
Phones are great to keep us connected, but they also can drag us down, esp when we keep seeing repetitive information.
One or two news checks a day is all we need
Find opportunities to amplify positive and hopeful stories and positive images of local people who have experienced COVID-19..
Avoid watching, reading or listening to news reports that cause you to feel anxious or distressed
Instead, seek CDC updates and practical guidelines at specific times during the day
Make a plan for when you are overwhelmed or distressed.
What are two or three tools in your toolbox for when your stress is too elevated?
For some it may be a solo walk around the block, some cycles of deep breathing, a hot shower, a slow cup of tea, a call to a trusted friend
Now is also a good time to develop new coping skills and learning new ways to reset
Things you can do to support yourself
Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate
Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.