Tips To Stay Centered During COVID-19

Hi friends, some of you are here from being a part of our newsletter community. If you are, thank you so much for being here. If you aren't, I'm so glad you're here seeking ways to stay centered during this unprecedented time. 
It's been a whirlwind of a few weeks, and it's safe to say it's affected all of us in many aspects of our life, if not all. When multiple adjustments need to be made at once, it can feel overwhelming. That's why I put this list together in hopes it can serve you as a guide to finding some "normalcy" again. 
Some of you know, I am still on the frontlines as a healthcare professional providing mental health support to immunocompromised patients and to those affected by COVID-19. But as a small business owner, I really wanted to find a way to support our community as well. I thought this may be the time to utilize my professional expertise to support you. I've put together some tips below, similar to what I've shared with many of my clients. Please know I'm thinking of all of you. We will get through this together. 
  1. Find a routine: some of you now have your entire household under one roof, all day long. This can really impact the family dynamic. It helps to set clear boundaries by creating a realistic schedule amongst adults and child(ren). Allow space for each family member to have “me” time. It’s also helpful to share why certain tasks/schedule need to maintain the same - it’s important not to assume your partner will know your reasoning. If someone in the household had “alone time” in the house, it’s easy to feel crowded and overwhelmed when you now have to see the same person/people 24/7. Try to find this comical and temporary (while it may not feel like it), and then move forward by finding alone time. Take turns taking a walk, drive to a scenery you enjoy and watch from your car, or do activities in different rooms.
  2. Limit Social Media & News: Stick to 2-3 valid sources. Overwhelming yourself with constant news about COVID-19 can increase your anxiety. CDC and WHO are great resources for up-to-date information. If social media is making you feel anxious, it's okay to step away or decrease your screen time. Stick to contacting people you trust through phone, texts, or FaceTime. Or have fun and send letters!
  3. Focus Your Energy on What You Can Control: Often times, our anxiety is heightened because we’re focusing our energy on what we can’t control aka the unknown. This happens to many of us, but can also lead us down a rabbit hole. Instead, try to focus your energy on what you can control. For example, making your bed every morning, creating a morning and nightly ritual, nourishing your body with what’s helpful, organize that bedroom, pantry, or closet that’s always needed help. Build that furniture that’s been sitting in the garage.
  4. Dress To Impress Yourself: As much as we love our loungewear, our feelings can move toward the opposite of motivation. To lift your mood, try an outfit that brings comfort and confidence. Play with colors. Try colors that brighten your mood or outfits that are bold. Play with accessories, color nails to match, and play around with patterns. Using your creativity can spark further inspiration.
  5. Keep Your Circadian Rhythm Regulated: Our Circadian Rhythm can influence our sleep-wake cycles, hormone release, eating habits and digestion, body temperature, and other important bodily functions. It’s helpful to wake up and go to bed at similar times everyday. Working from home can also mean more screen-time which can disrupt our circadian rhythm. Instead, go outside at least once a day for at least 30 minutes to get Vitamin D and natural sunlight into your body. This will help regulate your circadian rhythm. This is also suggested when fighting fatigue.
  6. Give Yourself/Family Grace & Flexibility: No doubt this pandemic has taken a toll on everyone. While this isolation can feel like eternity, (and I know it’s especially hard for you extroverts!) there will be an endpoint. If you’re a parent, know that everything will not go as scheduled or planned. Give yourself a pat on the back every night, and focus on one thing that went right. This is also a big shift for children. Allow space for different feelings to enter. Listen and answer questions with as much accurate knowledge. It’s best that the information is accurately provided as it’s easy for children to find loads of inaccurate and traumatic information on the internet. Children have the best imagination for scenarios like a pandemic. Explore their imagination and combine it with reality. If you’re unsure how much information to share, a great starting point is asking them what they know about COVID-19 and pandemics.
  7. Write Down Your Schedule The Night Before: Many self-care and productivity specialists have recommended this, and I find it personally very powerful. This is all about mindset. By writing down your to-do’s the night before, it will help you feel mentally, emotionally, and physically prepared for the next day. Keep your to-do’s realistic and focus on your top 3 priorities. Otherwise, our list can be endless. After you have a clear idea of what you have planned, take it a step further. When you’re lying in bed, close your eyes and visualize what you will do the next day step-by-step. I like to picture the room, lighting, weather, outfit, mood, and energy level. This can help you feel productive as you can wake up knowing you’re what you need to do. It’s easy to get side-tracked, so try to stick with your plan as much as possible.
  8. Get Your Endorphins Running: Endorphins help raise our serotonin level and we all that right now. Whether it’s going for a pump-up virtual exercise class, taking a walk or an impromptu dance party, it’s helpful to get our energy rising for at least 30 min a day. Great examples: Virtual Zumba class, dance party to African Drum Music, Virtual cardio classes, and nature walk.
  9. Get Creative: Art is healing for the soul, but it also helps increase our serotonin level. Now would be a great time to whip out your paint collection that’s been collecting dust. Kid’s love being creative, make it fun as a family. There’s ways to be creative with everything. Is it arts & craft? Gardening? Photography? Dance? Cooking? Whatever it may be, this isn’t the time to critique your skills or outcome. Focus on the process and journey instead. Most importantly, have fun!!
  10. Find Humor: laughing can boost your mood and energy. Find lightness in this heavy moment. It can be laughing at yourself, laughing with someone, or watching comedies. If you find certain genre of movies to be depressing right now, try to avoid them. Focus on movies/shows that make you laugh.
  11. Ask For Help: Whether it’s professional help, or speaking to someone you trust, it’s okay to seek help. Many of us deal with drastic changes differently, and if you find that you are having a difficult time coping with the current situation, ask for help. Many mental health professionals have switched to Telehealth and are available by phone or video chat. If you don’t already have professional support available to you, The National Alliance on Mental Illness has a hotline available to speak with you regarding COVID-19. If you're struggling financially, gather as many resources as you can or even crowd source. Food pantries are still open, talk to your mortgage lender, landlord, and look into SBA loans and if you qualify for loan forgiveness. 
  12. Repeat Helpful Mantras: Right now, the news is changing on a day-to-day sometimes hourly basis. Those are situations we cannot control. Focus on taking it day-by-day on what you can control - aka thoughts and phrases that you repeat to yourself. For example: “I am strong, and I will get through this” “This too shall pass” “I will focus my energy on the good” Repeating phrases like these will teach your brain to believe that it is true.
  13. Try 4-7-8 Breathing Technique: This breathing technique is commonly used in yoga and meditation, helping calm the nerves especially with anxiety. Here's a link to learn more with directions.

I could go on, but I thought this was a good starting point. I'll be posting another blog post with helpful links. Stay tuned...