Life as we have known it is most certainly over and this is clearly the most uncertain time in modern history. What has been most striking has been the polar opposites that I am witnessing. From people still believing that COVID-19 is primarily a hoax, or at least just a bad cold, all the way to people stockpiling doomsday quantities of everything they can get their hands on. There have also been some pretty split effects on people from mild inconveniences, to job loss, unemployment, and the fallout of such (homelessness, repossessions, credit destruction, and so on). Certainly, some professions are being devastated such as hospitality and personal services while others survive (education) or even thrive (food service, medical and cleaning supplies). Certainly the amount of unknowns, coupled with the minute to minute fluctuations of directives and updates layered on top of loss of structure, predictability, and sense of community is a recipe for disaster in terms of mental health. As I continue to work with people thus far into the infancy of this new era; a few things have become clearly key in faring well from a psychological standpoint:
1. Reducing and pacing exposure to media and information is crucial
2. Maintaining what you can from your "B.C." schedule, along with establishing a new structure and routine is essential
3. Giving yourself permission to be a little "off" or a bit "lazy" is ok for a bit as you transition to a new norm in the ever changing climate
4. Find your tribe. Seek others who are experiencing this crisis at your level and embrace that you are NOT alone.
5. Get outside!! On so many levels this is so powerful. Fresh air and clearing your mind is so important to reset. The sun with its Vitamin D is so helpful not only for mood, but for your immune system. Exercise similarly has positive effects on mood and immunity. Getting outside gets you out of those "same four walls" and helps shift to the larger perspective. It literally grounds you and helps reduce the sense of feeling out of control.
6. Consider getting support from a professional. Mental health is essential and if face to face visits are not possible or comfortable for you, telehealth is being offered by most therapists nationally and many of the previous barriers to accessing these means have been reduced or eliminated.