This post was written by our Client Success Coordinator and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Andrea Johnson.
Fear and anxiety are high for many right now as the outbreak of COVID-19 continues to unfold. Feelings of uncertainty, stepping into the unknown, and a sense of lacking control are creating a dysregulation in our whole system.
How we respond to this dysregulation can make a difference in our mental health, in our relationships, and in our community.
Despite current news events, we are not helpless, and we can choose our response.
Here are 5 ways to take care of your mental health in times of uncertainty:
- Manage your expectations.
It’s likely your life has shifted in one way or another during this time, which means your expectations must shift, too. If you expect your productivity and routine to look the same, or even similar, today as it did before this outbreak, you’re setting yourself up to be deeply disappointed in yourself. Today is not the same as a month ago, a week ago, or even a day ago. Try to be as fluid as possible during this time. We must separate what is in our control from what is not in our control.
- Take care of your body.
Our mental health is heavily correlated to our physical health. Move and nourish your body, and engage in grounding techniques and deep belly breathing. Laugh. Crank up your favorite music. Connect with nature. Social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t leave your home. You can go for a light jog, get some fresh air, or spend time in your garden.
- Inform but don’t overwhelm.
Limit excessive continuous exposure to media. Set boundaries around the time you spend on taking in news. Make sure you’re using trusted sources, too. Coronavirus misinformation is growing by the day, and it’s important to protect ourselves from fear mongering platforms.
- Connect with others.
The phrase “practice social isolation” can be confusing. More accurately, we are being told to practice physical isolation. Reach out for emotional support. Contact loved ones. Tell them how you feel. Keep your therapy appointment. Don’t isolate.
- Offer support to others.
Taking care of others helps us manage our own stress. If you can support local business by purchasing gift cards to use later or shopping online, great! But not all help has to be given in the form of financial support. Write thank you notes to nurses, firefighters, and police. Ask your elderly neighbors if they need help shopping. Check on your friends and family.
There are so many of us affected by the current changes and the changes to come.
This is a time to unite, share our human struggle, and support one another in the best way know how. We can find common purpose, even if we are required to stay apart.
Andrea R. Johnson, MA, LMFT is the Sales & Account Operations Executive at Jonas Fitness.
In addition, she is the co-owner of the Friendswood Center for Couples and Families.
She has been in practice for nearly 10 years, and works with older teens, young adults, and
couples in Friendswood and surrounding areas.