What we can do
We’re in this for the long haul, a fact that will demand a tremendous amount of psychological energy from each of us. So I urge you: take the steps you need to maintain both your physical and mental health—as well as the health of those you love—during this time of unprecedented uncertainty and anxiety.
• Understand the difference between manageable stress and the stress that puts your mental health at risk. What you need to avoid is stress that affects your appetite, your sleep patterns, your motivation, your energy and your interactions with others.
• If you feel it’s beyond your control, reach out for help. If you’re employed and your company offers an Employee Assistance Program, take advantage of its services. If you’re not, ask your doctor for a referral to a licensed therapist.
• Create a routine for yourself; it’s normal to feel at loose ends if you don’t have a schedule to follow.
• Stay informed of the CDC guidelines, but don’t over-obsess on the news. And limit your use of social media to contacts with friends and family who are important to you.
• Be aware of quarantine fatigue—especially for your kids—and plan family activities that are safe and enjoyable and can get little minds to focus on fun rather than confusion.
• Consider practicing mindfulness—whether you use meditation, yoga or prayer, it will help to focus on the moment rather than let you mind run wild with “what ifs.”
• And above all, cut yourself some slack. These are unprecedented times—circumstances for which none of us was prepared. It’s natural to feel some anxiety, but the trick is to prevent it from taking over.
Yes, we’re all in this together. But YOUR job is to focus on you, and your family. There will be a time when this virus is behind us; we each need to make sure we’re mentally and physically ready to make the most of it.