As a nation and in our local communities we are at an unprecedented time. The current world stressors are fueling feelings of anxiety and depression for many individuals. Record numbers of individuals are facing emotional, economic, social, and psychological stressors and challenges. While there are no immediate solutions the following strategies may help you THRIVE as you manage during distancing and COVID -19.
THRIVE: To progress toward or realize a goal despite or because of circumstances. (Merriam-Webster dictionary)
T – TAKE Control – Limit your content to what is manageable and meaningful. Be aware, not inundated with media. In effort to remain informed many individuals are substantially increasing their consumption of social media and other news outlets and this is directly increasing levels of anxiety. Try to hold to one hour or less of news per day, identify and focus on reputable sources such as the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control, and identify when your interpretation of the news is distorted or fear driven.
H – focus on HOPE and HELP: Focus on changing your thoughts, humankind is full of innate resilience. Think of what you can do and control to make a difference even if it is small. While you are at home-distanced think of what you can do and change your daily activities. This may be as small as reaching out to a friend who is struggling, setting hearts in your window, or ordering delivery from the local diner.
R – ROUTINE: Develop a reasonable schedule and work to stick to it. This includes set times for sleep and waking, even if you have “nowhere to go”. When Netflix asks “would you like to continue watching” for the third time turn off the television and get some rest. If you are working form home set a work day and home routine to keep boundaries from blurring and feeling “on” all of the time. Set not only a routine for time, also a routine for space. Set a separate space for where you will work versus where you will live if possible.
I – INCREASE self-care: Remember that self-care is not always doing more, it can be feeling good about doing less. For some self care means exercise, starting those guitar lessons, and learning to crochet. Yet others may view self care as engaging in mindfulness, reflection or taking a nap. Self-care is not a one size fits all, though all could benefit from paying attention to their needs and using time to care for them. Engage in small acts of self care daily- sleep 30 minutes longer, meditate for 5 minutes, be mindful, move, express gratitude, practice self-love, experience nature or art.
V – VALIDATE: There is no “how to” manual or “Pandemic for Dummies”, there is not a right or wrong way to feel. Show yourself kindness, validate whatever feeling you may be having and work to expand beyond the feeling. If your moods or emotions are changing rapidly give yourself permission to feel what you need in the moment. If you are struggling with overwhelming feelings which are impacting your safety reach out immediately for assistance.
E – ENGAGE: Distancing is a necessary measure to flatten the curve, distancing does not have to mean disengaging. Schedule time to be with others (safely), skype a game of checkers, host a virtual viewing party, play UNO online or have a zoom meeting with friends. Engage with your family- start a blog, a family journal, play board games and get outside.
While you may feel like we are all “stuck” at home, remember we are “safer” at home. Taking steps to THRIVE will help you maintain your mental health during the extended safer at home order.
“My mission in life is not to merely survive, but to thrive and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style.” – Maya Angelou
Written by: Dr. Casey Hanson
BIO: Dr. Casey Hanson is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and the Clinical Director of Sherman
Counseling. Dr. Hanson works with children and adults and practices evidence based treatment and
individualized care to help each patient and family meet their goals. Dr. Hanson also provides
psychological evaluations for diagnostic clarity. Dr. Hanson is skilled in the treatment of Trauma,
Anxiety Disorders, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and Parent-Child Relational struggles. Sherman
Counseling is a licensed mental health clinic with 4 locations throughout the Fox Cities, Green Bay and
Oshkosh to offer comprehensive mental health care. For more information visit Sherman Counseling at
www.sherman-counseling.com, or call (920) 733-2065.