Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can cause fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones, changes in sleep or eating patterns, and worsening of mental health conditions among others. You may feel sadness, frustration, irritation, anger, loneliness and other uncomfortable emotions. You many experience difficulty with attention and concentration or unexplained headaches or body pain. Having too much time on your hands and lack of physical connectedness can cause anyone to overanalyze, ruminate (the process or continuously thinking about the same thoughts, which tend to be dark and sad) and fall into a funk. While we encourage your to schedule a telehealth visit with your trusted provider at Pediatric Associates if you have concerns about your emotional wellbeing, here are some ideas that may help.
It is important to ride out this “emotional weather”, recognize your needs and ground yourself. Try to make your time spent in quarantine at home feel a little more normal. My number one recommendation is to implement a daily schedule and stick to it. Life can feel out of control right now so focus on the things that you can control. Structuring your day can go a long way in making these next few weeks feel productive, fulfilled and organized.
Start by asking yourself, “I wonder how I can use this opportunity to learn, grow and thrive?” Use any extra time very intentionally, don’t drift through the weeks. Pick one or two things you’ve wanted to learn about or how to do and teach yourself. Plan to come out of this quarantine with a new skill or hobby.
I suggest that you start by creating a daily schedule and write it down. Your schedule may include some of the following activities:
- Set your alarm and stick to a morning routine: shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, make the bed
- “Clock in”: school is your job, begin work on academics and work diligently
- “Clock out” at a designated time. Put the books away and do something active. It’s important to keep a healthy balance of work and play
- Make time for exercise: take a solo walk, discover a new trail (charlottesville.org/walking trails.com), or try a workout program (runnersworld.com/couchto5K.com)
- Make time for quietness: mediate; try this app (Headspace), paint (paint with Bob Ross on YouTube) work on a puzzle
- Eat healthy: limit sugary snack, try a new food, try a new recipe with things you have in the house already (supercook.com)
- Make time for socializing (virtually of course): use social media to meaningfully connect, Plan daily group video chats. Slow down and connect with people, write a letter, email, telephone someone you haven’t connected with in years.
- Limit repeated exposure to pandemic news on social media and news channels. Resist endless scrolling though Facebook and Instagram. Catch up on a streaming movie that you have been wanting to see, pop some popcorn and watch with a friend via Zoom app.
- Help others: helping others is a mood booster. Ask yourself, “Who can I help today?” Be aware of who in your circle might be particularly vulnerable and check in on them by phone, email or video chat.
You can actively cope with the coronavirus, soothe your panic system and cooperate to flatten the curve. You can take this challenge as an opportunity.
Kelly S Vincel, CPNP 4/10/2020