By Dawn Catucci MS, PD, LMHC
This is a very challenging and worrisome moment in time. We are all trying to manage our family, schedules, personal health, and well-being during the COV- 19 pandemic.
Here are 10 tips to help you find your balance:
1. Create a schedule: Wake up in the morning, get dressed for your day, even when you are not leaving your house. Make yourself a healthy breakfast and write a list or schedule for yourself for the day. Give yourself structure if you’re working from home. Remember to set limits and boundaries so that work does not take over every inch of your being.
2. Do pleasant activities: What are the things that give you relief, soothe you, and comfort you? Remember the things that made you happy before all of this, like your favorite meal, having a warm cup of tea, or having a conversation with your best friend. These activities are essential to keep your spirits up. You may need to do them on purpose now.
3. Self soothe: This may be as simple as relaxing on the couch with a soft throw blanket, notice the beauty around you, listen to the sounds around you. Take a warm bath or shower, add a fragrant soap and take a moment to take in the smell and how soft it feels as you lather up. Light a scented candle, look at the dancing flame, and take in the fragrance. Enjoy a snack such as some yummy popcorn, notice the smell, texture, crunch, and flavor. Drink your favorite beverage slowly- so you can actually notice the taste. Try a silk eye mask when taking a nap or going to sleep for the night. Notice how soft it feels and how refreshed you feel after you get well-needed rest.
4. Create space: Giving yourself time to process all that’s going on is very important for your mental health. This might mean checking in with yourself and identify how you are feeling. If you are feeling sad, you may talk about it, meditate, pray or cry. Intense exercise can also give you a space to release some of this anxious energy. If overwhelmed, try putting ice or frigid water on your face for 30 seconds at a time to calm yourself down. BREATH, gently in your nose to 5 or 6 and out of your mouth longer.
5. Gratitude: Take time to look around and see the things that are actually good, even in the saddest of times. It may be noticing and being thankful that at this moment, your family members are safe at home. The sun is shining gently through your window, and that the flowers are starting to bloom.
6. Minimize what is coming at you: Notice the amount of news that you are watching in a given day. Try watching the news two times a day instead of all day. Also, try to minimize the amount of social media that you take in and put out.
7. Keep Relationships Steady: Do something kind for others, check in on relatives and friends who may be lonely by calling them or setting up a zoom or face time meet-up. Find ways to enjoy and appreciate your time with your family, play board games or do a project together. Take time to cook a family dinner together, set the table, light candles and put some music on. Notice if you feel on edge or cranky with your family or loved ones and try to catch it, take a deep breath, step away, come back and respond with love and kindness.
8. Avoid Avoiding: If you are avoiding things that must be done, like school or work assignments, try to take it step by step, one task at a time. Do the most demanding things first and complete what you can. Think about how you feel when the tasks are completed.
9. Use healthy coping strategies: When stressed, we may turn to unhealthy coping strategies. Look at what that might be for you and identify it. Keep in mind moderation and make changes that are needed. This time can also be used to quit a bad habit while building healthy ones.
10. Have self-compassion: Notice that you are doing the best you can do during this extraordinary time. Speak to yourself as you would a person who you love dearly.
Try this mantra: May you be safe, May you be healthy, May you be happy, and May you live your life with ease.
Dawn Catucci, MS Ed, P.D. LMHC Mental Health Counseling for Emotional Well-Being PLLC, Diplomate Academy of Cognitive Therapy, Certified Cognitive Therapist https://www.mycbtanddbt.com/
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