What a fascinating time to be alive?
Some are working longer hours. Some are working less. Some lost jobs. Some lost business. Some are unable to graduate. Some are becoming TikTok famous. Some are getting creative with their online work. Some are loving this inward time. Some are really struggling to be alone. Some are spending more time with their kids. Some are getting walked way more than usual (shout out to the pups out there).
Regardless of your situation, this pandemic has seriously disrupted our regularly scheduled plans.
I’m not going to lie. I usually avoid the news like its coronavirus (the modern plague) because of all the negativity generally associated with it. I know that if something is important enough, I will learn the information from someone no matter what (i.e Australia fires, unstable circumstances in Iran, COVID-19). And I try to stay informed in politics via reading credible sources when it comes time for me to vote and participate in our democracy.
However, during this pandemic it is my responsibility to stay involved as a healthcare provider who committed to the naturopathic physician’s oath that states, “By precept, education and example, I will assist and encourage others to strengthen their health, reduce risks for disease, and preserve the health of our planet for ourselves and future generations.”
So that is exactly what I’m here to do. I spoke to Dr. Paul Anderson about Vitamin C and COVID-19 and Dr. Robert Kachko on how naturopathic medicine can be supportive during this crisis in my podcast. However, I wanted this post to be more about how you can keep boundaries to keep your sanity.
I don’t know about you but I definitely lost all boundaries as soon as this crisis really kicked into gear. To be fair, this is a trauma that we are all collectively experiencing and as with most traumas, things go awry. So I give myself grace…
So then what can we do now to stay sane and balanced while also being informed?
- Turn off the news: Yes, I know we want to stay informed and that’s the point of this post. Turn it off and set times for checking in on the news. I know in Ohio the governor does his briefing every day at 2 pm so maybe the time you take to get informed is from 2-3 pm and then again (because I know you want to) around 5-6 pm. But try to avoid more than 2 hours of engagement. This also goes along with getting correct information about what is going on. I interviewed my friend and colleague, Dr. Hiten Patel, on how to avoid misinformation that so you’re only engaging in information that is accurate and not wasting time and energy on misinformation.
- Reduce social media time: Yes, I know most people are bored and just want to use social media as an outlet but even on social media there’s just constant information about our current situation that is not supportive of our mental health. Even if it is a meme that’s funny, it’s just another reminder.
- Breathe: After taking in the information from the news every day, take a minute to breathe. I usually recommend the 4, 7, 8 breathing technique with all of my patients and it literally only takes 1 minute!
- Allow yourself to process the information: “The president extends social distancing guidelines to April 30th.” Okay how do I feel about this? Do I feel more anxious? Do I want to cry? Do I want to punch something (I wish I had a punching bag but pillows do for now)? Now allow yourself to feel and express your emotions however you need. Seriously, NO ONE is around you right now so it really doesn’t matter. And if you have kids, cry in front of them. I know this is an unpopular opinion but when you express that vulnerability in front of them, they now know that it is okay to feel confused and cry and struggle because my parents feel it too.
- Stay active: Exercise helps utilize excess cortisol (stress hormone), helps increase serotonin (feel good neurotransmitter) production, and supports our immune system. At home workouts, dancing, walking outside, and yoga have been some great ways for me to stay active.
- Play more: I know many parents are struggling during this time, but one thing I’m envious of people with kids right now is the ability to play more. Play legos, puzzles, dance more, get crafty, and/or create new games (trust me, your kids are good at this… just ask them to create a game and go with it). For those who are single and childless, it’s important to reach out to your friends for zoom/houseparty game nights! These have been so much fun for my friends and myself. It’s definitely not the same as being in person but I’m grateful we live in age of internet where we can still stay connected even while physically distancing ourselves.
- Read books/watch TV for fun: I rarely recommend watching TV as a form of stress relief but this can be so therapeutic during this time, just try not to overdo it and try reading a book on occasion. I personally love stand up and rom coms because laughter is medicine and has also been found to support our immune system.
- Learn how to cook/cook more: We have been gifted this time to learn how to cook healthier meals. And the more we practice, the quicker/easier it becomes for when life will inevitably pick up #AC (after corona).
- Start a journal: You’ve heard this a million times already but these really are unprecedented times and your unique experience is so valuable. You don’t need to share your experience with anyone but yourself but when your grandkids ask about this pandemic, you’ll have all the memories there to share. Plus, journaling has been found to reduce cortisol levels and be supportive for those dealing with anxiety and/or depression.
- Give yourself grace: This is probably the most important thing to do. I still don’t cook every day. I sleep in more. I throw a pity party for myself occasionally. I don’t journal every day. I watch the late night shows that talk about the news being exposed to current events more than 2 hours a day (but at least they’re funny right?). I stay on social media longer than my allowed time limit on my phone. I forget to reach out to my friends when I’m feeling low. And all of this is okay! The point is to do these things as often as possible to prevent negative long-term impacts. The more we practice the more normal it becomes and the better we feel.
I hope this was helpful and I want you to know that I am here for you during this time.
Please reach out if you’d like additional support. Whether its to optimize your mental health or support your immune system, there’s always something we can do!
At Mahan Health, we are grateful for those on the forefront of this pandemic and are proud to support!