Not long ago, the idea of a day at home—even with work involved—came with blissful thoughts of comfortable clothes, relaxation, and no rush-hour commuting. Something of a treat.
Now, as Hoosiers hunker down with their families and pets at home to help to stop the spread of the coronavirus, the thought of spending yet another day working and living in the same place might seem downright stressful. We miss our offices, friends, and colleagues, going out to dinner—and our kids even miss school. Frankly, we miss them going to school because now we’re homeschooling—or, at least, trying to.
All of these changes came quickly and without much warning. And we’re not quite sure when it will end, releasing us back to our daily routines.
So if you’re feeling anxious, lonely, depressed, or bored, it’s not unusual. Or maybe you’re caught up in fear of a catastrophe: That’s okay, too. There are skills and steps to take that will help keep those negative emotions in check. But how, especially at a time like this?
“All of us react to stress in different ways, and this influences how we feel,” said Dr. Benjamin McAllister of Hancock Counseling and Psychiatric Services. “As we begin this potential marathon, it is helpful to have skills and strategies in our emotional toolbox.”
Here are a few of Dr. McAllister’s tips:
- Maintain a routine with a consistent bedtime and morning alarm.
- Get out of your pajamas and get dressed. It will help you maintain a healthy schedule.
- Stay informed but listen, watch, and read the news in moderation. Don’t let the news of the day take over. Also, don’t believe everything you hear: Seek out reputable news sources.
- Maintain social distance and go outside and exercise, even if that means a simple walk around the block.
- Use technology to stay connected with friends, family, and community.
- Eat healthy foods.
- Challenge your negative thoughts with positive, optimistic ones.
- If you’re a religious person, remind yourself of your faith.
- Use meditation, mindfulness, and other relaxation techniques. You can even download apps to help.
- Spend time on your hobbies or explore a new one. Unstructured time is important, too.
- Avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as alcohol.
- Create a plan in case someone in your home becomes ill; just having one alleviates anxiety.
- Consider having a weekly family meeting where you can check in and see how everyone is feeling.
These are just a few tactics that can be used to reduce stress at this difficult time. Another one might be just to remember that we’re all in this together, going through the same things.
But if you or someone you know experiences symptoms, professional help is another useful tool. Hancock Health’s team of healthcare professionals is ready to help.