Social distancing does not mean social isolation.
Social isolation is a known risk factor for mental health disorders, substance use and dementia, especially for those who are already vulnerable. During this time, it's important to be vigilant about maintaining positive social interactions. Luckily technology can help.
Reach out to friends and family daily, especially those who are alone. Try not to focus on the current situation; mix it up with these conversation starters:
- tell me something I don't know about you.
- tell me a family story I've never heard.
- tell me about your first job, pet, etc.
- if you could have dinner with any three people, living or deceased, who would it be and why?
- if you were stranded on a deserted island, what three (foods, books, etc) would you want?
Maintain a regular routine.
Your daily routines matter! While its ok to stay in your pajamas and binge watch your favorite shows if that makes you feel good, two weeks is a bit much! Maintain routine provides structure and encourages healthy choices, and helps us to be mindful and stay present.
- Prepare and eat meals together, and disconnect from technology.
- Schedule time to do something that helps you relax - reading, yoga, walking the dog, etc.
- Schedule cardio and strength exercise using fitness routines, apps and videos from web.
- Encourage routine hygiene - teeth brushing, showering, getting dressed, etc.
- Keep up with regular activities, such as practicing instruments and karate at home
Looking for resources? YouTube is filled with yoga videos; enter "yoga for kids" or "family yoga" in the search bar and gyms like the YMCA have online classes posted. PInterest is a great resource for quick craft projects and kid-friendly recipes. Finally, many services are working to provide online options. Don't forget to check with your kids' teachers, etc. for virtual instruction or suggestions for online resources.
Remember to breathe.
When we are stressed, we tend to tense up and our breathing is limited. Practice breathing even when you don't think you need to.. There are many different techniques. Find what is most comfortable for you. A few tips:
- Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth
- Count or repeat a phrase to keep your breathe steady. A common recommendation is 4-7-8 (inhale for 4, hold for 7, exhale for 8). If this is uncomfortable, modify the count. Another recommendation is a 1:2 ratio (inhale:exhale).
- Search YouTube for "breathing with guided imagery" or use a free app such as Calm to help visualize your breathing.
- Make your own bubbles. Blowing bubbles forces us to exhale slowly. There are many DIY bubble recipes online.
- Look up free apps such an Insight Timer for free and guided breathing, meditation and visualization at your fingertips.
- Make worry stones. Collect smooth stones from around your house and write inspirational words on them with a marker. Place them around your house to rub, when needed. Focusing on the feeling at texture can be very calming
- Make a glitter jar.
- DIY coping cards: brainstorm ideas for things to do when stressed and draw or write them on index cards or pieces of paper. There are also many printable options online.
- Get creative and use your own strengths, likes, and what you have access to, to come up with something to help relieve stress and give yourself something proactive to do! This could be, drawing, painting, making slime, etc.