“How are you?”
Many of us uttered this phrase casually in a pre-coronavirus era – to our coworkers on our way to the coffee pot, to the checker at the grocery store, to an acquaintance on the street. But now, more than ever, it’s time to take a pause to reflect on your mental health, and reflect, how are you, really?
Here are some tips to maintain your mental health while you’re #SaferAtHomeBeachCities:
Take a break from the news. When you hear, read or watch news about coronavirus, you may feel anxious and may show signs of stress. Obsessively checking news feeds may lead to heightened anxiety. Try a family challenge to have a “coronavirus-free” day – no one is allowed to say the word, watch the news or scroll the internet. Every slip-up goes into the family tip jar, which can be saved for a takeout meal from a local restaurant.
Keep a regular schedule. A common refrain for the newly indoctrinated WFH (work from home) employee or the virtual student is to keep a regular schedule. While the allure of conference calls in your pajamas and late-night Netflix binges might seem appealing, there are legions of WFH veterans who swear by consistency and routine for productivity and stability. This includes adequate sleep – a big booster of immunity, too.
Identify a personal mantra. In these times of uncertainty, maybe Mick Jagger said it best: “you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you get what you need.” Or perhaps you prefer to “keep calm and carry on.” Or follow the advice of Angela Lansbury, who said it’s “better to be busy than to be busy worrying.” No matter what, know that “this too, shall pass.”
Revisit that list of “someday” projects or ideas that can be safely done in your own home. You don’t need to dismantle your entire garage or organize every photo album since 2001. Start with the silverware drawer, or another simple task. Simple and routine organization can bring calm in an uncertain time.
Know that you’re more resilient than you think. Our brains are good at predicting the worst. But research shows that people tend to overestimate the impact a negative event will have on them, and underestimate how well they will be able to cope and adjust. Crowd out the uncertainty of negative thoughts with those you have control over – the safety of your family at home, your ability to stay connected with others virtually and the gratitude you have for your simplified daily activities. If you find yourself struggling with your mental health, reach out for help through BCHD’s Assistance, Information and Referral line at 310-374-3426, ext. 256.
Be social while social distancing. For the first time in our lifetime, social isolation is the best thing for our health. But decades of research show us that social connection is still crucial while we’re physically distant, and that social distancing can still be social – try FaceTime, Zoom or Skype. Write letters to relatives – or zoo animals. Send a holiday card in April. Leave a note on a neighbor’s door, sharing your phone number and that you’re here to help (while following our recommendations for Neighbors Helping Neighbors).
Take care of yourself. Turn your free time into “me” or “we” time. Prioritize exercise, mindfulness and other self-care activities. Write down your daily self-care plan and reflect on it each morning.