This is a hygiene virus which means we need to “clean up our act”! There’s no doubt that the COVID-19 virus is scary. Anything on a pandemic scale such as this is forcing us to sit up, and pay attention…but not to panic. This unprecedented fear of the unknown we’re all dealing with is taking a huge toll on our emotional well-being and routine. It’s definitely time for an Emotional Rescue. It is giving us a message loud and clear like when our bodies shut down when we don’t listen. We are being given a collective message (by God, Mother Earth, the Universe, Angels…whatever you believe) to wake up, slow down, and take a serious moral inventory of how we are keeping “clean”.
This virus is asking us to do some self inquiry. By examining how we take care of ourselves, what we think (what we think about our selves and each other), how we behave (the words we use, road rage, etc), how we treat each other, and our environment. We need to calm down, think and act rationally, and know the facts! It is very important to stay out of fight/flight/freeze responses so we keep our immune system strong. Those stress hormones are activated by being in reactive mode, and panicking. Remember Fear is about making up stories about the future. Put into practice those self care techniques that keep you in the present and calm. Here’s what happens when we are stressed or anxious:
Causes of Stress:
- Fake news-not fact checking.
- Panicking-making up stories.
- Doing too much…of everything—there is no rush.
- Eating, drinking, and spending too much…
- Too much togetherness or inability to connect (no hugging, hand shakes, touching others) now we are being told to social distance.
- Not enough togetherness. For those who don’t have families, there is loneliness. Relying on others can make one feel alone and deserted.
- Not sticking to a schedule.
- Worrying or making up stories about the future.
Warning Signs of Emotional Pain:
- Excessive shopping/spending
- Taking extra medication when it is not needed
- Failing to take RX as the doctor ordered
- Sharing and/or borrowing medications
- Staying in bed
- Sleep problems-can’t fall or remain asleep
- Panic attacks
- Anger outbursts
- Watching the news non stop
- Searching social media for answers
- Chronic Health Problems due to stress reactions and panic
- Loss of interest in hobbies, activities
- Dry mouth-due to anxiety
- Poor hygiene-loss of interest in self or daily activities
- Snacking all day long
- Mood Swings
- Drinking alcohol or taking drugs to calm down
This is a time when emotions are running high and on empty. Communication often erupts into arguments between family members neighbors as disagreements take place about who gets to go where and when. Even road rage and public confrontations occur. These outbursts are usually about control issues, and focusing on selfish needs (e.g. in case we run out of food/toilet paper/paper towels/bleach). This is not the time to panic about “stuff.” There is enough for everyone.
If you want the keep your immune system healthy, be non reactive, and avoid the Stress Response known as the Fight/Flight or Freeze Response, the following is recommended:
- Breathe. Exhale out slowly. Longer exhales and shorter inhales will keep anxiety levels lower.
- Clear out the clutter…you have time!
- Do things in the spirit of cooperation, no matter how painful. Stick to consistent routines and rituals whenever possible—keep your word. This helps children and everyone cope providing all a sense of stability and routine. BE KIND TO THE PEOPLE IN RESTAURANTS AND SUPER MARKETS THAT ARE SERVING YOU!
- If you have appointments keep them! Otherwise please be considerate and call people to cancel or make other arrangements. They are relying on your word!
- Watch funny movies or a series on Netflix.
- Do not make others the scapegoats for frustration about a situation. This helps children/family/friends maintain a sense of balance and trust, knowing they can depend on you during this time.
- Spread the love—allow kind and patient communication as everyone is coping with sudden changes in routine. All may want to be in contact with family members or other loved ones that are not here or are travelling.
- Shop sanely…there is plenty for everybody.
- Treat yourself to YogaFun™ Nidra and other relaxing stress management exercises (check the web site for more information and schedules).
- Set boundaries. If you don’t want to go out don’t! Make love, kiss your children, play with your pet, clean out a closet.
- Do not bad mouth or gossip about how others are coping or handling this. Everyone is on their own journey.
- Write nice messages for your loved ones to find. They will appreciate being thought about.
- Avoid or limit the consumption of alcohol. Alcohol depletes serotonin, the chemical needed to stabilize and balance moods and emotions.
- Exercise regularly to keep endorphins (mood elevators) pumping!
- Do not sacrifice healthy habits. Choose to eat healthy. Limit junk food, sugar, and carbs.
- Decorate the house to keep you and others in a festive mood.
- Plan things “to do”…bake cookies, wear festive clothing, read stories out loud, talk about the historical facts, play board games.
Most importantly: Have FUN(TM) and Stay in the present moment! Remember why you are together. The fact that you are all around now is what matters most. What will be remembered about this global emergency most are the examples of love and the renewed desire of how to spend time with each other: it is all about quality and quantity.
Stay calm, healthy, and sane…lay down, and breathe…
THIS TOO SHALL PASS…eventually.
Dr. Kathy is well known in Jupiter Florida as the “go to expert” for her mindful approach to cognitive behavioral therapy (talk therapy). Combining evidence-based therapies from psychology, neuroscience, mental imagery, nutrition and exercise, her FUN™ program establishes mindbody balance to create immediate shifts in thinking. Dr. Kathy is also a Certified Addiction Professional, Yoga Therapist (C-IAYT), EMDR Practitioner and EMDR Consultant in Training. She is the co-author of Asthma Free in 21 Days and frequently publishes articles related to mental health.