This article is from CAMFT (California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists), by way of PCWC Leadership Team member, Phyllis Vokey Long, LMFT.
Tip 1: Practice Acceptance
A global pandemic is not a usual occurrence. It makes sense that you are feeling uneasy. Allow for your feelings and allow for the reality of the situation. Also allow for the fact that most of us are not in immediate danger, and that we’re working together to find solutions.
Tip 2: Make a Plan
Our brains get very overwhelmed in situations that are out of our control and have uncertain outcomes. Comfort yourself by controlling what you can. Be sure to wash your hands. Do what you need to feel safe and secure. Check out the Red Cross Safety and Readiness Guide here, and share your readiness plan with your family.
Tip 3: Stay in the Present Moment
When we bring our mind into the present, and stop ruminating about the future or the past (what has gone wrong and what could go wrong), we realize that we’re okay. Make sure your mind is where your body is. Use a mantra if that’s helpful – “This too shall pass.”
Tip 4: Don’t Overexpose Yourself to the News
Repeatedly viewing or listening to the same scary story can really push your nervous system into full panic mode. Schedule just a few times a day to turn on the news or look at the internet, for about 20 minutes at a time. Set a timer to keep yourself from fixating on the scary stuff.
Tip 5: Pay Attention to your Body
Our brains and our bodies are intricately connected. We feel better emotionally when we feel physically rested. Make sure you are eating healthy, getting a little exercise, and practicing good sleep hygiene.
Tip 6: Practice Deep, Slow Breathing
When you practice deep, slow breathing, you’ll feel less anxious, because your lungs will send a message through your Vagus nerve to your brain that all is well. Practice breathing ‘In’ for a count of six, and breathing ‘Out’ for a count of six, for one full minute or more.
Tip 7: Stay Connected
We are biologically wired to connect with one another, and there is real healing power in connecting with other people who are struggling in similar ways. Even though you may not want to spend time with big groups or see people in person, make sure you’re not isolating more than necessary.
Tip 8: Keep a Balanced Perspective
Even in the most challenging times, we can find a few aspects of our lives that are going well. It is important to focus on the good in times of struggle. If you realize you haven’t laughed or smiled in a while, watch a funny TV show or call a friend who makes you laugh, and remember that the world isn’t all bad. Sometimes, even in the midst of crisis, we can find silver linings.