Healthy Coping Through COVID-19: A Social Distancing Survival Guide

To govern your own day is often a much better use of psychic energy than to focus on a global event over which we may have little power. Putting your attention and effort into what you can control can be an excellent antidote to fend off and prevent feelings of stress, anxiety, panic, and depression. When we live each day with a plan, we bring the power back into our own hands.

Planning and managing your day can be a crucial ingredient to becoming a productive and happy individual. Creating and living a meaningful day may also lead to feeling good about yourself. Your confidence will likely lead to positive thoughts and feelings about others. This positivity will help you maintain better physical health and may be contagious to others. In today’s often difficult world, you can help yourself, family, friends, and community by following some the guidelines highlighted below.

Let’s look at some of the ways you can make an appreciative difference in your life and, by extension, make a positive impact in others’ lives.

1. Stick to a schedule as much as possible. therapy and its properties

Especially during times of crisis when we have no control over extraordinary circumstances, mapping out and executing a plan for your day is critical. Creating a structure for your day can give you the opportunity to gain control in your life at a time when you might feel otherwise.

Structure your day as closely as possible to the way your day played out prior to the pandemic. Make sure you wake and sleep at the same time, as well as eat and take breaks at scheduled times, as best you can.

It is important to include start and end times for all activities that make up your day. Spending as little as 15 minutes daily on lower priority or overwhelming activities may be enough to make a huge difference in your feeling grounded and more comfortable during these uncertain times.

To benefit fully from a mindfully-planned day, add as many of the following activities to your daily calendar as makes sense. For example, you may not schedule your job in every day, but you it’s likely you will benefit from “me time” activities daily:

Work. If you are working from home, don’t let your work hours extend past the time you would normally work. Keep the same start and end times, and attempt to stick to this rule as stringently as you can. Carve out a spot in your home that will function as your work space, even if it is the corner of your dining table. Don’t worry about the mess—only the people living in your home will see this. Besides, we are all in the same boat. We all understand.
Physical movement. Any kind of movement will do. Dancing. Shaking tension out of your body with comedic arm and leg flailings. Walking. Biking. Jumping jacks. Squats. Stair climbing. Yoga. Calisthenics. You get the idea: just move for at least 15 minutes every day.
Meal prep. Make sure you keep your home stocked with healthy foods as best you can. Focus on fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, healthy fats (olives, olive oil, avocado, nuts, nut butter), protein (dairy products, eggs, meat, poultry, fish, beans, tofu), and whole grain products. Limit added sugar and processed foods. Whenever possible, portion out the healthy fats and protein ahead of time so you keep your calories and fat/saturated fat grams within the prescribed level.
Upkeep of your home. Picking up. Straightening up. Cleaning. Laundry. Shopping. Cooking. Keep these to a minimum if you are overwhelmed or unmotivated. For example, if you’re not into straightening, up you can schedule in 15 minutes each day to focus on one room or small area only. This continual aim of 15 minutes daily will help you with housekeeping maintenance and can make a significant dent if you have a longstanding clutter problem.
Caring for family members. If you are caring for children, adults, or pets in your household, setting a strict schedule may be difficult. Set up a schedule as best you can around major tasks, such as meals, bathing, playtime, medication time, etc. As a second step, be kind to yourself and build flexibility into your daily schedule so that priority is given to the people and situations in your charge. If other tasks for the day do not get done the way that you expected, then so be it. Encourage yourself to feel good about doing what you can. Allow yourself to not be perfect in all your roles. Set yourself up to feel good about how you organized your day and how you met challenges throughout. Recognize that being perfect is never possible, and that during this time of “shelter-in-place,” your time is likely in even higher demand with competing responsibilities. Allow yourself to move through your day free from guilt and full of grace and gratitude.
“Me” time. This daily component should never be glossed over. If you are thinking that you do not have enough time to spend with yourself, then think again. A minimum of 15 to 30 minutes daily will allow you to regroup, revitalize, increase your joy, and be more efficient at taking care of your other daily items. Ideally this would be time you spend alone. The list of possibilities is endless. Take a bath. Read a book. Watch a movie. Meditate. Do yoga. Close your eyes while sitting or lying comfortably. Pay attention to the sounds of nature outside your window. Listen to calming music. Research something that is interesting to you just for the fun of it. Immerse yourself in a project that has nothing to do with work or family, one that is just for you.
Connect with others, including virtual visits. Play games with children. Paint your nails with your teen. Cook alongside your spouse or partner. Engage in a phone or video call with a friend or family member. Play a game online with someone who is not in your home.
Limit exposure to the news. It is important to keep up-to-date with the ever-evolving information about the pandemic. We do need to check in every day to make sure we are aware of new protocols, warnings, and good news about COVID-19. However, spending too much time focusing on the news can often lead to increased anxiety and depression. It’s important to get the minimum needed information for the day and not to delve too deeply into individual stories. Pick a time of the day to view the news, and put it in your daily schedule. Make sure you do not choose the evening or night, as this may adversely affect your sleep. Use a start and end time that allows for no more than 30 minutes daily of reading, viewing, and listening to the news.