Unprecedented Times

Unprecedented times call for ……. healthy coping skills.  Regardless of your viewpoint on what is happening in our country, you can’t deny that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused you to feel a multitude of emotions.  First, let me tell you that ALL of your emotions are valid.  If there is anyone out there telling you that you “shouldn’t” feel a particular emotion, don’t listen to them.  They are wrong.

All emotions are God-given.  You are entitled to feel any and all of them at your leisure.  However, the controversy comes in how you express those emotions.  Right now you are thinking, “Yes, but so many of my coping skills are not available.”  You are right.  Maybe you are someone who can’t go to work right now.  Or, maybe you are an essential worker and your life has become that much more stressful.  Maybe you cope by going shopping, going out to eat or for coffee with friends or family, or maybe you are active in other community activities.  Yes, these activities are not necessarily options right now.  BUT – you have a choice.  Yes, you could choose to veg out in your pajamas all day binging your favorite show or watching your favorite movies (and that’s ok – sometimes).  This activity is very isolating though and, long-term, can lead to some more unfavorable emotions.  So, let’s explore your other option that involves beating isolation.

I am one of those essential workers that can still work, but the rest of my “available options” for activity are no longer options.  So, I have chosen to allow myself to veg on occasion, but also to get creative.  We all have a lot of time on our hands to brainstorm how to be less isolated during these times of forced isolation.

So, options for those of you that need some assistance:

1. First and foremost, don’t hesitate to reach out for emotional support.  Whether that means phoning a friend or family member, or getting in touch with professional services; this is a must.  Remember that we are all feeling isolated right now.  You would be surprised at how much reaching out to really anyone can help (even if it’s just waving at your neighbor across the street.)  Know that most mental health services are not only taking insurance, but some also offer sliding fees for the uninsured (I am one of them.)

2. Become familiar with the vast amount of technology options there are to make number 1 above possible, or ask someone to teach you.  Many platforms even offer “training” videos on how to use their free or low cost services.  Video services are a great option to continue to utilize face to face contact with those you care about.  Once you are utilizing these services, the options become numerous.  There are several board games that can be played virtually (albeit, you might have to pick one person to move all of the pieces.)  Enjoy playing and/or listening to music together.  If you are a student, study together.  Start a book club with a gathering of friends virtually.  The options really are numerous.

3. Remember that we are isolated, but only to a 6-foot distance.  You can still get outside, go for a walk (with or without your dog that has surely been begging to get outside).  Gather a few friends and walk together – 6 feet apart.  Just get moving (inside or out.)  Your heart will be healthier and so will the rest of your body (you know you eating more now that you are home all the time.)  Company is company.  If you and/or your friends are fortunate enough to have hatch-back vehicles, grab some food, park in a 6-foot-apart circle, and visit from your trunks.

4. Some of you are already living where spring has been welcomed with beautiful weather to get outside.  So, start thinking about what your yearly springtime projects are – maybe gardening or landscaping, maybe mowing the lawn, maybe playing basketball in your driveway.  Those of you that are living where maybe spring is still forthcoming, nothing stops you from planning your garden or what flowers and/or plants you will have in your yard.

5. What about inside options?  Think about all the projects you put off because you are normally too busy.  Make a list; really, it will surprise you.  Maybe it’s a list of good books, or finally working on that menu plan you’ve been saying you’ll do for ages, or maybe something needs to be fixed or cleaned and you’ve been putting it off.  Incidentally, it’s really fun to grab a friend or family member on some virtual platform and cook and/or meal prep together.  Maybe it’s as simple as a puzzle, or a craft.  Maybe, you have always wanted to learn something new.  There are a crazy amount of free resources out there right now to learn just about anything.

Point being, you have choices – a whole lot of healthy choices.  So, pick out your favorite playlist, a good project (just you, your immediate family or with a friend virtually), jam to some feel good music and embrace the feeling of not being too busy.  Before you know it, the quarantine will be over and you’ll be left asking, “What did I do with all that time.”

Feel free to leave other healthy option ideas in the comments!  We’re better together – even if only virtually.

Stay well and spread kindness – we all need it.

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