Where Is My Quarantine Handbook?
We’re all in this together, and sometimes, we all need a little help from our friends! Today’s guest post is a helpful quarantine read by our friend, Christine Soriano, LCSW, on how to stay grounded and work through some of our anxieties during these unprecedented times.
I have been in my home for 40 days. That’s right, 40 days with only an anxiety filled trip to the market on exactly 3 occasions. The past month has been a roller-coaster of emotions for me, as I am sure it has been for everyone else. And very unfortunately, there is no handbook for how to deal with the current crisis in front of us. God, I wish there was!
As a therapist in the greater New York City area, I see person after person (via tele-health) who are struggling to make sense of what is going on around them. I will not pretend to have all the answers, but the 100 + sessions I have done in the past month have taught me these guiding principles to optimize your mental health during this crisis.
Be ok, with not being ok.–––––––
You are human and this is really tough! It is important to remember that whatever you are feeling right now is valid and it is ok if this is difficult for you. The truth is this is difficult for most people. So even though people on Instagram are making it seem like they are killing it at the moment, remind yourself that your emotions, and the rollercoaster ride they feel like they are on, is OK. (and remember Instagram is only a curated look at other people’s lives.)
Be kind to yourself–––––––
If self quarantining is difficult for you, like it is for most people, how you mentally respond to those difficult emotions is key. Are you internally judging yourself for not being more productive? Is the inner critic pointing out that you didn’t deliver on your job, perfectly home-school your children and lose 10 pounds yet. Do you think you “should” be doing better? Many people have a laundry list of expectations they place on themselves and as the all almighty Brene Brown reminds us, “the greater the expectations, the greater the disappointment”.
Instead, show yourself the kindness and compassion that you so deserve. Think about how you would speak to your closest friend if she came to you saying that they weren’t doing a good enough job. You would most likely, respond to them with words of kindness and encouragement. Learn to ‘speak to yourself in this same voice. This will take some practice but after enough practice, it will become second nature.
Self-Care, Self-Care and oh yeah, more #SelfCare–––––––
Self-care is intentionally and mindfully engaging in something that is meaningful and is being done with the purpose to recharge, revitalize and just give yourself some love. When we spend countless hours mindlessly scrolling through Instagram, Snapchat or Facebook, we are not engaging in self-care (most likely, we are avoiding our emotions). Self-Care needs to have intention behind the act and this is key.
I am hearing from a lot of parents that this just doesn’t fit into their chaotic lives. I want you to know I hear you but I also want to remind you that this does not need to be some grand act. If you can take 1 minute to practice mindful breathing or take an extra few minutes in the shower noticing what the warmth of the water feels like, this is self-care. YouTube is a great resource for meditations and breathing exercises that can range from 3 minutes to 60 minutes. Trying new recipes, getting out in your garden, exercising and journaling are all options, but most importantly, find what works for you.
Being aware of how the news makes you feel.–––––––
If you are glued to cable news for most the day, or even if you have it lingering in the background of your home, this can have a profound impact on your mood. It’s time to ask yourself ‘how is interacting with my preferred news source making me feel?’ and then adjust based on this information. This isn’t about burying your head in the sand. This about being present with your emotions and thoughtfully and intentionally, pivoting to a different method that yields different results. Try watching your local news only once a day, checking in on if the show you’re watching is opinions or facts and most importantly - if it is upsetting you, change the channel.
Asking for help, when you need it–––––––
Asking for help doesn’t mean you’re weak, it means you're courageous. Using your support system is key. Think about a friend that you can be fully vulnerable with and when you call you're not afraid to tell the truth of how you are feeling. It's ok to let people know that this is tough for you. Often, we feel if we acknowledge out loud that we are in a tough time, that we will be perceived as weak and the difficult emotions will take over. On the contrary, when we speak truth to our emotions, we take some of the power back.
If you feel your emotions need professional help, don’t be afraid to reach out, even from the comfort of your home. The internet is a great resource to find online support groups, substance abuse services and individual and group therapy. Almost all therapists have switched their practice to virtual sessions right now, we realize how hard it is and our profession is here to support you.
Christine, and more information on her therapy and life coaching services, can be found at @livingmindfullytherapy.