As the COVID 19 Crisis lingers, more states and municipalities extend shelter in place restrictions and lock downs spread, many of us working remotely and isolated at home will begin to feel increasingly disconnected. Long-term social distancing and self-quarantines will begin to have negative effects on our mental and physical health. Therefore, it is important that while you continue remain isolated to avoid being infected, we can’t disconnect from your support systems.
CEO and founder of ActionCOACH Brad Sugars offers some common sense tips to stay connected in light of losing access to some of your normal routine and favorite leisure activities. You can’t go to the movies, or visit your favorite pub or even go over to friends or your family’s homes, but you can still keep connected.
Keep in mind that extended isolation does bring on depression and other physical alignments flare up. “People who are more socially connected show less inflammation, conversely people who are more isolated and lonely show increased chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation has been implicated in a variety of chronic diseases,” said Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University. (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/18/coronavirus-isolation-social-recession-physical-mental-health)
- Get some rest. Give yourself time to recharge and re-energize. Take mental breaks away from work. Take a walk, do some jump rope in the back yard or do some mediation to refresh.
- Seek out positive motivational and inspiration content.
- Have some fun. Get a little silly and don’t forget to laugh.
- Reach out to family, friends. Be the person that reaches out. Give more than you get right now. If there is someone in your circle of influence you have connect with in sometime, make the first step and use FACETIME, SKYPE, ZOOM etc. to get some virtual face-to-face connections.
Experts say that digital connections don’t fill the need for face-to-face interactions, but it helps. “But I do think you can get part of the way there by engaging with others digitally. I think the richer the format, probably the better – so a phone call is better than a text, a video conference is probably better than a phone call” said Khullar. (Gabbatt, 2020)
The CDC offers tips on their website include the ones Brad outlines and others.
The Mayo Clinic goes in depth to help you cope with the stress brought on by continuing isolation.
Reduce stress triggers: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/mental-health-covid-19/art-20482731 The information which follows come directly for the link provided.
- Keep your regular routine. Maintaining a regular schedule is important to your mental health. In addition to sticking to a regular bedtime routine, keep consistent times for meals, bathing and getting dressed, work or study schedules, and exercise. Also set aside time for activities you enjoy. This predictability can make you feel more in control.
- Limit exposure to news media. Constant news about COVID-19 from all types of media can heighten fears about the disease. Limit social media that may expose you to rumors and false information. Also limit reading, hearing or watching other news, but keep up to date on national and local recommendations. Look for reliable sources such as the CDC and WHO.
- Stay busy. A distraction can get you away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed anxiety and depression. Enjoy hobbies that you can do at home, identify a new project or clean out that closet you promised you’d get to. Doing something positive to manage anxiety is a healthy coping strategy.
- Focus on positive thoughts. Choose to focus on the positive things in your life, instead of dwelling on how bad you feel. Consider starting each day by listing things you are thankful for. Maintain a sense of hope, work to accept changes as they occur and try to keep problems in perspective.
- Use your moral compass or spiritual life for support. If you draw strength from a belief system, it can bring you comfort during difficult times.
- Set priorities. Don’t become overwhelmed by creating a life-changing list of things to achieve while you’re home. Set reasonable goals each day and outline steps you can take to reach those goals. Give yourself credit for every step in the right direction, no matter how small. And recognize that some days will be better than others.
Positive and proactive self-care is as important as what you do for others. Put your self in the best frame of mind to get through this crisis stronger than you did when this all started. Social distancing and isolation are helping save lives and reducing the spread of the COVID 19 virus. But we can’t lose sight that as social animals, we all need to stay connected.