Caroline Quintanilla, MSW, LCSW

Unfortunately, right now, people all across the country are experiencing the emotional ups and downs of regulations surrounding being cooped inside of our homes. In my work with clients, I’ve found that this turmoil can look like several different emotions: depression, helplessness, anger, frustration, anxiety, nervous energy, hopelessness, fear of the future. If you take away nothing else from this article, please hear me that: each of these emotions are valid and deserve space in this time of intense uncertainty. Here are my tips for navigating this time effectively:

Tips 

  1. Regulate your media time. Consider isolating time that you spend on news sources to either 20 minutes or specifically to the morning or evening hours. Spending entire days mindlessly checking news sources for new information regarding COVID-19 will take a toll on your mental and emotional health
  2. Consider “Connection” as One of Your New Basic Needs. Sleep, eating/drinking, daily hygiene… when we’re living in a time where social isolation is so easy, we need to prioritize interacting with others and be mindful about how we can achieve this goal.
  3. Get Creative With Virtual Friendships. FaceTime, phone calls, and voice messages certainly have their place right now. Consider morning coffee dates, or watching a movie/show together and setting aside time to talk about it together. Play multi-player video games online. Doing new things together and creating fresh memories will help bring some peace.
  4. Know That You Don’t HAVE to Feel Okay Right Now. Unfortunately, with this time also comes pressure from to turn this time of unproductivity into production… to learn a new skill, or hobby, or achieve your long-sought dream body. The truth is that this approach may not be right for you, and if that’s the case, that’s okay. Be mindful of what feels good as you’re doing it, and what leaves you with a feeling of relief. If that’s learning how to become a computer programmer overnight, go for it. If that’s sitting on the couch watching Hallmark movies, that’s okay too!
  5. Attempt to Go Outside (If Recommended by CDC). Trust me, it makes a difference. If you have a backyard, a balcony, access to a path where you’ll be 6 feet away from others, a dog that needs walking… make it outside if you can. Just a couple of minutes or a walk, run, or bike ride can be enough to make you feel alive again.
  6. Stimulate Your Mind. How often in life will you get a chance to discover fun facts about things, places, creatures that you’ve always been curious about? Take this opportunity. Learn about the life expectancies of beluga whales or what makes dragon fruits their unique color.
  7. Express Gratitutes to Maintain Balance. I’m not talking about basic gratitudes: I’m thankful for my sister Bertha and for my health. I’m talking about gratitudes that express the vivacity of life: I’m thankful for the chocolate chip cookies I baked that turned out perfectly chewy. I’m thankful for the relief I feel when I stretch my body. I’m thankful for my lavender-vanilla scented body soap. It’s easy to get caught up in sadness; let’s keep the balance.
  8. Stay Funny. My personal favorite is puns… Utilize this time to mindfully incorporate humor into your daily life. Again, on the notion of balance, it’s not plausible to think any of us will be able to sustain ourselves in deep distress and fear. Laughter is more magical than you might think.
  9. Eat Well. Eat what nourishes your body, which doesn’t HAVE to be kale smoothies or plain carrot sticks OR endless supplies of frozen pizzas. Eat what excites you, what you look forward to, what feels good in your body AND on your taste buds, eat what brings you relief and satiety. Cook your meals, heat them up in the microwave, meal prep for yourself, do what feels best for you.
  10. Allow Yourself To Get Lost In Something. This could be anything, a new interest, a bad reality TV show, a Great American classic novel, or good old fashioned day dreaming. Something that absorbs you so deeply you forget you got lost in it! To practice the experience of escapism is a highly underrated form of mindfulness that is truly amazing.