“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” — Theodore Roosevelt
As I mentioned in my previous article, Hunkering Down with COVID-19: 4 Brain-wise Ways to Cope , COVID-19 has ushered in a period of unexpected trauma on a global level for so many. Not since the Spanish Flu in 1918 have people been impacted by a pandemic to this magnitude. Due to the overwhelming nature of safety and health concerns, many are experiencing tremendous anxiety and, in some cases, a resurgence of trauma and loss. I am offering some additional coping skills that I hope will be useful.
Tips for Coping with COVID-19:
1. Reduce social isolation by staying in touch electronically (Zoom, telephone) with family/friends who are supportive and validating. If you are able to socially-distance walk outside (with masks) with people in your support bubble who share the same philosophy on social-distancing, that might also be an option. Studies have long shown that increasing positive social supports lowers both anxiety and depression. We are social creatures by nature, and we need to stay in touch with our circles, but safely so (Ozbay, et. al ,2007).
2.Exercise in nature. Studies also back up that hiking and exercise in nature is good for brain health (Gladwell, 2013). Since gyms are not safe at this date for inside exposure to other people, Zoom yoga/Pilates or working out in open spaces can be very helpful in reducing stress levels. The brain gets a boost in endorphins and serotonin, thus lifting mood health and lowering stress chemicals like cortisol and adrenaline.
3. Pick up a creative hobby. Being that you may have long hours to fill that typically would involve free time interacting with your fellow human beings, it may be a great opportunity to learn a specific type of cooking, enjoy art-making, learn a foreign language (that you might be able to use on future travels), read books for fun, play with your kids (revisit the joy of board games and jigsaw puzzles, make a dirt fort outside), etc.
4. Engage in supreme self-care. You may be an essential worker that requires you to go into work and potential exposure to COVID-19. Or you may be working via home on Zoom all day while also raising and teaching your kids. Either way you look at it, living through a pandemic is very stressful. Revisit the basic pillars of self care: good sleep hygiene, nutrition, and exercise to fortify brain health and lower stress.
5. See a counselor (via webcam or telephonic): If you experience any symptoms that are keeping your mood health down-in-the-dumps (high anxiety, triggered traumas from the past, grief, sleep issues, depressed mood), then consider getting support for your emotional well-being. Most all therapists these days are offering webcam/telephonic sessions during the time of COVID-19. You deserve support. Don’t delay in reaching out for help. At some point, this pandemic will be a past chapter, but your brain health needs attention now and ongoing.
Retrieved from Internet (7/27/2020): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2921311/
Retrieved from Internet (7/27/2020): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3710158/