Cooped Up With Corona
We are living through an unprecedented time. A few short weeks ago our lives were continuing as normal, as normal as they were, and now most of us are cooped up in our homes. If we are adhering to the advice of our government, community, and religious leaders we are home with our families unsure when life will continue as we knew it.
Some of us have frail, elderly, or immunocompromised loved ones who we worry about from an uncharacteristic distance, for our very visit can bring along tragedy in its wake. We worry about getting sick or being the cause of others getting sick. We worry about finances with so many of our jobs and our careers screeching to halt. We worry about either our own or others educational tracks being stalled or changed with unclear pictures of what life will look like when this is over.
Life cycle celebrations have been cancelled or postponed indefinitely. Holidays coming up quickly on the calendar seem impossible to celebrate in current conditions. Even if you didn’t suffer from anxiety or depression before this. it’s hard not to feel the strain on our mental health. Our obligatory changed routines within our homes can put a strain on even the
healthiest of relationships.
I am not going to tell you how to avoid the novel strain of the corona virus here, there are so
many government ads, commercials and media posts to guide you. But here are a few tips on how you and your family can stay mentally healthy during this time:
1) Be cautious about how much time you spend watching the news. News broadcasters are not just in the business of disseminating news they are in the business of keeping you tuned in. The best way to do that is to make you afraid to miss anything. However, living in that much tension for so long can push anyone into a heightened state of anxiety. Pick one or two times to get updates and turn off your news-feed alerts.
2) Anxiety feeds off of the feeling of powerlessness. Right now, because of the situation we may feel a sense of helplessness on a level that may exceed our coping capacity. We are aware of the crises that surround us and that stimulates our brain to want to do something. The reality, though, is there is little or nothing for us to do. This dichotomy increases the feeling of helplessness which increases the anxiety. The best way for us to get a sense of power back in our lives is to focus on what we can do. You can make a positive difference in someone else’s life. Make a list of people you know that are elderly, frail, or otherwise at risk. Every day make sure to call and check in on them. Try to make them smile or laugh. Affecting other’s lives is a meaningful way to cope, and they may even teach you a few things as well.
3) Create some short term goals for yourself, and your family, and schedule them out. Having a routine and things that need to get done brings a sense of normalcy in our lives. Schedule things out for your kids to do also; regular times for home-school activities, chores, projects, and a little bit of free time will help them too. It’s a great opportunity for them to be involved in things they never had time for before. Give your children a cooking class. Let them write, act and film short plays to be sent out to family members. Have them begin creating a family tree. There are free apps for this. Have them reach out to their grandparents or extended family members with prepared interview questions, a few open ended questions might just be the thing to help the generations get to know each other better.
4) Make sure to get outside once a day. Walk around the block, stargaze in your own backyard, or put some chairs on the sidewalk and say hello, from a distance, to people walking by.
We at Lieberman Clinical services understand the difficulty we are all in. It is for this reason that we are offering virtual sessions at reduced rates. Whether you are currently a client and would like to continue your treatment or you are someone who has never been here before, we would love the opportunity to be there for you. Please call or email to schedule a free 20 minute introductory session and you can begin working towards a life that you want for yourself.
Be safe, be healthy, be happy.
Shlomo Steven Lieberman, LCSW-R