Guest blog by Maelina Frattaroli, Marketing & Communications, Stamford Health
Recent events surrounding the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic have sent the world into a state of caution, fear and even panic. There is no denying that the uncertainty of this situation is both challenging and stressful. Everybody reacts differently to stressful situations, whether a global health emergency or a smaller-scale personal crisis.
While we all wish we could help stop the spread of the disease and comfort everyone we see, there is only so much within our control. Here are some steps we can take right now to help take care of yourself and those around you.
- Practice gratitude.
It’s easy to succumb to statements such as, “What is the world coming to?” or “It’s someone’s fault- this could have been avoided,” or “I’ve lost faith in humanity,” and more. Instead, make a point to observe and even write down one good thing that happened today. Did someone go out of their way to be kind to you? Did your supervisor thank you for stepping up to the plate in this time of crisis? Take note of it all.
- Appreciate life’s simple pleasures.
The best things in life are free. With the warmer weather on the way, and some sunny days ahead of us, getting outside is a healthy choice. Take time to appreciate the solitude around you. Notice the tulips that are beginning to emerge. Soak in the warmth of the sun beating down your back.
- Take a break.
Turn off the noise—turn off the news—and don’t feel guilty about it. While we want to stay informed, there is also lots of misinformation out there. Social media can cause unnecessary—and avoidable—anxiety. If your life starts to feel like a record on replay, give yourself permission to switch gears and focus on something completely different.
- Connect with others.
This is the true test of using the Internet and social media mindfully. It’s more than possible to practice social distancing and still maintain relationships with friends and family. I keep in touch daily with my family in Italy thanks to WhatsApp, for example.
- Be the change you want to see in the world.
Gandhi had a point. While we can and should exercise an overabundance of caution, take the time to remind yourself that you have the privilege of setting a positive example. What do we want to teach our children? Appreciation and generosity, or paranoia and greed? Of course, there is a line, but please be mindful.
Now is the time to harness the power of stories—pull out the children’s books—especially the ones that convey an important message. Some of my personal favorites are The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein and I Will Love You Forever by Caroline Church. (Note: tissues are a must.)
- Prioritize your mental and emotional health.
You may feel all kinds of emotions—you may be struggling significantly. That’s okay. Many mental health professionals around the world are working with their clients to arrange for virtual appointments. If you’re currently seeing a counselor, take advantage of that opportunity. If you’re looking for support, there is help out there.*
Staying grounded and staying in the present moment with deep breathing and exercise routines can also help ground you. If you’re interested in meditation, there are many free or low-cost resources available for download. Headspace, Calm, Insight Timer and Buddhify are all excellent choices. Also, here are some everyday practices for spiritual wellness.
- Stay active.
When fitness centers everywhere are closed, don’t give up on your exercise routine… create a new one! YouTube is a great source for free workout videos. All you need is some comfortable clothing and maybe a yoga mat. A brisk walk or jog outside is always a good idea, but remember to follow social distancing guidelines.
- Make the best of it and have fun.
If you’re staying at home, get creative. Board games, puzzles and scrapbooking never go out of style. Let out your feelings in a poem if writing is your outlet. Unleash your inner chef and see what recipes you can come up with using canned beans and dried goods. Music is a mood booster, so pump some tunes and dance. The possibilities are endless.
- Lend an ear and be kind.
We’re all going through this together. Try to take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone and use that comfort to be there for someone else. Ask how their day was or if there’s anything they need or wish to talk about. If you have friends on the “frontlines,” such as healthcare workers, reporters or public officials, thank them. A little bit of gratitude can go a long way.
I’d like to close with one of my favorite lyrics by Ben E. King: “I won’t be afraid just as long as you stand by me.” (But please stand 6 feet away from me for now.)
*The CDC website, CDC.gov, has some helpful tips on managing anxiety and stress during a disaster.
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