By Jessica Martzahl, Supervisor, KUSD School-based program, PSG
For the past few weeks, and perhaps the foreseeable future, we are going to be faced with uncertainty, change, and unpredictable situations. This equates to the perfect foundation for feelings of anxiety, stress, fear, depression, and a sense of loss of control. We may find ourselves feeling on edge, angry, helpless, or sad. For those who already struggle with feelings of sadness, helplessness, excessive worry or anxiety, these feelings may be exacerbated at this time. While it may not feel normal, these reactions are in fact very normal, and are our bodies and minds’ way of trying to keep us safe and protected in these uncertain times, as we lose a sense of control in our lives.
As we follow the guidelines to protect ourselves and our communities against COVID-19, we find ourselves being asked to socially isolate, distancing ourselves from others to prevent the spread of this disease. In doing so we can feel alone, disconnected, lost. Our routines change; we may be working from home, or worried about not being able to work at all, we’re responsible for homeschooling our children, while also caring for them on a more regular basis during the day.
Below are some guidelines to follow that can support your mental and physical health during these trying times. Try to pick one of these things this week to focus on. Allow yourself space, take the time you can to focus on these areas. Now is a time to be patient with ourselves and those we may be quarantining with.
1. Stay Informed, not overwhelmed: It can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the amount of information, and misinformation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Ensure you are up to date on your local policies regarding this situation, and check out sites like the Center for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov) to get accurate and current information. After that, allow yourself to step away from the constant new stories and articles.
2. Stay Connected: While this is a time when we are being asked to physically isolate ourselves from others, it does not mean we need to lose all sense of connection. The use of media (phone, text, FaceTime, Zoom, other apps and media platforms) are all great ways to stay connected to those we are unable to physically be with. Use this time to set up a weekly phone call or video chat with an old friend, reconnect with extended family. Some ideas include a weekly game night, cooking dinner with friends via video, writing a letter to someone you care about. All of these are simple ways to keep a sense of connection.
3. Physical movement: While being stuck in your home can feel like any chance at a workout routine is gone, fear not. There is a plethora of free online workout classes available, and body-weight movements are more than enough to keep your body active during this time. Allow yourself to get outside (while following the 6 feet social distancing practice) and get some fresh air and sunlight (if it ever comes). Go find a new trail near your home, dust off your old bike, bust out those roller blades. Find what feels right for you and try to move your body for 30 minutes a day.
4. Healthy Eating: Keeping your immune system healthy has never been more important. Focus on eating foods that are nutrient dense. This can include fruits and vegetables, nuts, and lean protein sources. Gut health is very important as well, so focus on getting yogurt, kefir, fermented foods that contain probiotics. Foods high in fiber will keep you feeling full and sustained. Allow yourself some treats as well, like dark chocolate.
5. Sleep: It can feel difficult to follow routines during this time, especially as we are working from home, homeschooling our children, and finding a “new normal” in our daily lives. However, keeping a normal and regular sleep schedule and routine will be the best way to ensure you are getting enough sleep each night, and feeling well rested throughout the day. Getting enough sleep is also vital in supporting a healthy immune system. Shoot for 7-8 hours a night and try to keep the same bedtime and wake-up time. This allows our natural sleep cycles to stay in sync.
6. Stick to a Schedule: If you can work remotely and from home, set a schedule and boundaries around this. For most of us bringing work into our home is a novel concept, and one that needs to be planned and thoughtful. Set a schedule for yourself; maintain set hours and follow them. Allow yourself a break in your day and use that time to take a walk, make a healthy lunch, meditate or just breathe. When your schedule indicates that work is done for the day, step away and disconnect from those responsibilities and shift into following some of the earlier suggestions for self-care.
All of these are just some of the ways that you can stay connected and take care of your physical and mental health during this trying time. If you need immediate help you can reach out to the following:
Disaster Distress Helpline – Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – Call 800-273-8255 or Chat with Lifeline
Crisis Textline – Text TALK to 741741
Professional Services Group is also taking on new therapy and medication referrals. You can click this link or call 262-652-2406 to speak with Audrey who will help connect you to a mental health provider at this time.