Bridgette W. Gottwald, LPC, NCC 

I know I’m not the only one who is quarreling with quarantine and disappointed and shocked at how 2020 has turned out thus far. Watching people arguing in the grocery store about toilet paper is something I never expected to see. We’ve all been pushed out of our comfort zones –  routines have been interrupted, plans completely destroyed and the whole world feels like it’s turned upside down. We continue to hear words like unprecedented, social distancing, quarantine, shelter in place, CDC (Centers for Disease Control), pandemic, corona, apex, and patient zero. Personally, I’m not sure that I had even thought of many of these words before this outbreak. As we quarrel with quarantine, and all of the adjustments we’re having to make to our lives during this time, I have made some of the following recommendations to my clients while working remotely through Telehealth over the past three weeks.  

Simulating Commutes 

COVID-19 has had a huge impact upon people’s work routines and schedules. We are all having to simulate normal work days and adjust to working remotely while balancing the schedules of others within the home. One of the things my clients have been complaining about the most, is the fact that they miss their work commutes. I’ve suggested to them that they create a fake commute, and simulate it so that it feels more in line with their normal routine. So, it normally takes you fifteen minutes to commute to work? Wake up, shower, get dressed, and take a fifteen-minute walk around the block before starting your work day. This gives the brain time and space to adjust to the workplace mindset.  

Focusing on Gratitude 

Although during this time, many things have been stripped from us, there are positive things we can focus on. Sure, we can’t be grateful for everything – especially something like a worldwide pandemic, but we can be thankful for the good that eventually comes out of it. 

Be Aware of Falling into Bad Habits 

These bad habits might be subtler than you think and creep up on you. Some of the most common ones I’ve heard are: going to bed later, engaging in social media constantly, drinking more than usual, poor hygiene, failure to clean up after oneself, ruminating and negative thinking. 

Limit and Control How and Where You Get Updates 

Staying informed and plugged into the details and updates can be helpful when trying to manage anxiety related to COVID-19, but it becomes an issue when we are too plugged in. Continuously scrolling through social media, or the news constantly playing in the background can become a problem. Experts suggest knowing your parameters, while “getting your updates from a limited number of trustworthy sources and try to drown out the rest of the noise.”  

Staying Connected 

Isolation is a breeding ground for anxiety. Staying connected to others will help you combat loneliness and stay connected to your social life. Be prepared for this to take more effort than it did before in maintaining the same level of social support. 

Write Down All of Your Worries 

To mitigate anxiety related to COVID-19, spending 15 minutes each day writing down all of your worries helps to “externalize internal fears outside so that you can actually see them in a tangible way.” This way, instead of worrying all day, throughout the day, it gives you the ability to compartmentalize your worrying into an outlet. 

Once all of this is over, globally we will come out of it stronger, wiser, and more grateful for the little things that are often overlooked because we are in the midst of a highly teachable moment. We have the opportunity to go deep and go broad as we are all in this together. This depth is being forced upon us by great suffering, which always leads to and results in great love.