No one expected this to happen. A few weeks ago, my son was home with strep throat. COVID-19 was just beginning to make the headlines. I took him to the doctors, got him an antibiotic, and was prepared to send him back to school on Friday, March 13, 2020. But then the news came- schools and businesses will be shut down. Stay home they said. This will get way worse they said.
No one expected this to happen. The first week of quarantine was met with mixed reactions- some hopeful, some jovial, some downright angry. Many folks in my local community were (and still are) dismissing the situation, saying that COVID-19 is “the same as the flu” and for people to just “wash your hands”. I felt a bit out of touch myself, honestly. As a telehealth provider, I worked from home prior to COVID-19. Perhaps this made the uncertainty difficult to wrap my mind around? Or maybe I was in disbelief.
About a week into the quarantine, I had to restock our groceries. Fortunate and grateful to have a mask and gloves, I started with Weiss. I felt silly, admittedly, wearing a mask, though that feeling quickly faded as I saw many others wearing similar “gear”. No toilet paper, barely any meats, and limited stock on many essential items. Shop Rite next door was much of the same (though I scored some 2 ply toilet paper while there).
As I pulled into Costco, there was a line to get into the building that spanned the length of the parking lot. They let only a few people in at a time and had employees wipe down carts as we walked into the store. Signs about social distancing decorated the aisles. I raced to the meat department- now not sure if I would be able to feed my family. Luckily, they had many items in stock and I was able to purchase what we would need for the quarantine. But a question still ate away at me as I stood six feet away from the person in line ahead of me– when will this end? Is there going to be enough food when I go back? Will I get sick? Will we survive this?
Anxiety and worry filled my mind as it has many others. Uncertainty brings about chaos and fear. So what do we do? Here are 4 ways to deal with anxiety during the quarantine.
1. Stay Active.
Exercise is not only beneficial for your physical health, but also for your mental health. Research has shown that regular participation in exercise decreases levels of tension, elevates and stabilizes our moods, improves our sleep, and improves our self-esteem. If you are not used to being active, start with 5 minutes of physical activity. It takes about 5 minutes of aerobic exercise to begin to stimulate anti-anxiety effects. Take walks outside, have a catch with your children, play outdoor games, and search for online workouts that you can do at home.
2. Stay Connected To Family and Friends.
I’ve heard that social distancing has thrown people for a loop because it perpetuates the notion of quarantine being lonely and leaving us in isolation. Some have even changed the term to physical distancing to help people feel better about the situation they are in.
Whatever terms you use, remember to stay connected to friends and family. Face Time, Skype, and Zoom are just a few ways that you can check in on and connect with others. Even though we may have a tendency to withdraw during these times, we are social beings that need social contact.
If you have children, set up Zoom calls with friends, family, and cousins. Sign up for Facebook Messenger Kids. Model connectivity to your children during these times so that they too can feel connected to people that they love and care about.
3. Stay In Your Time Zone.
Anxiety is a future-oriented state of mind. If you feel your mind starting to time travel into the zone of maybes and what ifs and oh nos, reel yourself back to the present moment by asking yourself the following questions:
- What’s happening right now?
- Am I safe?
- Is there something I need to do or can do right now?
If you are safe and there is nothing you need to or can do right now to attend to your worry, stay in the present moment and promise yourself that you will check back in later on to engage in self-care.
Mindfulness is also a great tool to use during times of uncertainty. Meditation, deep breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation can be very helpful in decreasing anxiety. Check out you tube videos and apps that facilitate these activities or sign up for an individual session here to learn more about implementing these techniques with support from a trained clinician.
4. Stay Healthy and Hydrated.
What you eat can make or break your immune function, more than half of which resides in your gut. The best way to activate a sluggish immune system during the quarantine is to drink a lot of water and to choose foods that contain both prebiotics and probiotics. Check out the infographic below.
You may also want to consider adding these supplements to your diet to boost your immune system during the quarantine:
- Vitamin C
- Elderberry Extract
Do you know someone that needs reassurance and validation? Young children may have a particularly tough time wrapping their minds around the corona virus quarantine. Explain what is happening in a clear, concise, and age-appropriate way. Convey what you know about the virus and ways to decrease the risk of getting sick. Young children cannot understand adult emotions and need adults to model calm during these chaotic times to foster a sense of safety and security at home.
If you or a loved one is experiencing mental health symptoms that are concerning or that are getting progressively worse, it’s important to seek help from a mental health professional. Thrive is a proud provider of telehealth (tele-therapy). We offer HIPAA compliant video, phone, and text sessions for individuals, adults, and families struggling with mental health. Call 844-984-7483 or request a free, confidential screening online.
Rose Skeeters, MA, LPC, PN2
Rose Skeeters is the CVO of Thrive: Mind/Body, LLC, an innovative mindset coaching & online counseling practice aimed at empowering motivated individuals to master every area of their life. She specializes in family & relationship counseling–helping couples, parents, & families get and stay on the same page. Rose is also the host of From Borderline to Beautiful, a podcast aimed at helping individuals with BPD, CPTSD, and EUPD find hope and help in their recovery journeys. Are you interested in working with Rose? Schedule a consult with her here or contact her today at Rose@thriveonlinecounseling.com.