Fighting the Quarantine Blues

With all the disruption we’ve faced lately, most of us are experiencing some level of “the blues” at times.  Between social isolation, financial worries, and losing the comfort of our routine, it’s no wonder we might feel down!  Try some of these tips to help yourself feel better:

  1. Put limits on the amount of time you spend in bed. With nowhere you “have” to be, it’s so easy to sleep in or even just stay in bed most of the day, but it can actually make you feel much worse. Try to stick to a sleep schedule and physically get out of bed when you wake up in the morning.
  2. Eat well.  Try to limit the junk food and eat balanced meals.  Good food will help your mind and body work more efficiently.
  3. Indulge in self-care. Even just 15 minutes of doing something you enjoy can improve your mood.  Find something relaxing that helps you to unwind. Read, listen to music, take a hike, do something creative.
  4. Prioritize and organize your tasks. With all the disruption to our normal routine and structure, things can feel more overwhelming than usual.  You may need to break tasks into smaller steps than normal, and that’s ok!  Write out the steps you need to take to accomplish your goals and tasks, and check them off as you finish them. 

The Bright Side

I am constantly moved by how people can overcome obstacles in life and still see all the beauty that there is.  The fact is, many of us will face something pretty catastrophic at some point in our lives. Whether it’s a devastating loss of a child or a partner, a chronic illness, an accident that leads to a disability.  It’s actually pretty amazing that people come out on the other side of these things. Of course, not all setbacks are going to be so severe…but they can hurt just the same.  

So how can we build resilience?  How do we know we are starting to heal?  What prompts someone to come out of total darkness and start seeing some light?  And what does “looking at the bright side” really mean? Is it different for everyone?  

There are several ways that we can build resilience.  Being able to regulate oneself is essential. This means that we can assert some control over our behaviors and can manage the range of emotions we might feel.  

We can develop resilience by building a strong support system.  It’s important to seek out relationships that are healthy and supportive.  Having a network of people who care about us and are dependable during times of stress is essential.  

Healing from trauma is a long process, and it is important to acknowledge progress along the way.  One of the biggest contributors to healthy healing is finding some meaning in the struggle that one has been through.  Is there something to learn from the experience? Is there an opportunity to reach out to others going through something similar?  Maybe an opportunity to educate or advocate?  

How many times are we told to “look on the bright side?”  It sure sounds nice, doesn’t it? But, like most cognitive exercises, it’s easier said than done.  Luckily, there are some ways to enhance your ability to look on the bright side:

  1. Search for a silver lining.  Has there been ANY positive outcome…no matter how small?  Did you grow somehow? Are there things that you appreciate more?  
  2. Start a gratitude practice.  Start and end the day by listing 3 things you are thankful for.  Pretty soon you will find you are naturally noticing the good things.  
  3. Choose a positive visualization.  Pick something that evokes good feelings.  It can be a good memory, a person, place or thing that you love, or something that you are looking forward to in the future.  Be intentional about focusing on this visualization when you are going down a negative thought spiral.  

Try some of these strategies and see how it feels.  Remember that these strategies take practice, just like developing any other skill. Feel free to be creative and discover what works best for you!

Wellness in the Time of Covid-19: Avoid Information Overload!

The current Covid-19 crisis is impacting all of us…as a community, city, state, nation, and world.  Being such a “hot topic,” there is an unlimited amount of information to consume on every platform imaginable.  Newspapers, websites, social media…literally everywhere!  

While it is wise to stay informed, it is all too easy to go down a virtual “rabbit hole” of information!  When we constantly feed our minds with bad news, it can lead to increased fear, anxiety, sadness, and anger.  So much of what is published is alarmist or sensationalized, and only serves to make us feel terrible, rather than providing useful information.  Luckily, there are some actions you can take to limit your engagement in indiscriminately consuming information about the crisis:

  1. Choose just a few sources that you will go to for information.
  2. Set a time limit on the amount of time you will spend consuming information each day.  For example, no more than 30 minutes twice a day might be reasonable for you.  
  3. Consider limiting time spent on social media.  While it can be a great way to feel connected with others, it’s also a platform for TONS of information related to the current crisis…some funny, some alarming, some true, some sensationalized.  Monitor how it makes you feel and adjust accordingly.
  4. If you struggle with being able to set limits on time spent consuming news and information, as least schedule a few 20 minute breaks throughout the day to give your brain a break!
  5. When interacting with others, try to talk about subjects besides the current crisis.  
  6. Make it a point to look up “happy stories.”  There are positive things happening, too. Have you seen the penguins who got to wander around the closed Shedd Aquarium in Chicago?  Impossible not to smile! 

Try these tips out and try to take in information a little more mindfully.  Pay attention to how it makes you feel. Choose to seek out something that will make you smile!