May 6 – Coping Strategies

Written by Karyn Hall

May 6, 2020

It’s another day of social distancing and staying home here in Houston. I live near a small square of restaurants and stores and am fortunate to be able to walk outside without coming into close contact with other people. It’s so strange to walk down empty streets with stores closed and little to no traffic.

With the news telling us their predictions of how bad COVID19 could get if we did nothing, and the ever increasing numbers of confirmed cases of COVID, it can be unnerving to say the least.

But if you’re taking care of what needs to be done, following the recommendations of the CDC and WHO, then don’t forget that it’s also important to soothe yourself and take care of your emotional health.

Gratitude
Right now, what are you grateful for? Practicing gratitude helps us remember that there are still wonderful things in our lives, even when we are struggling with a pandemic. I am grateful that I have my pets to keep me company and good friends who check on me. I am grateful that I have many pastimes that keep me entertained while I am homebound. I’m grateful for the grocery store workers, the medical professionals, the sanitation workers, first responders, the restaurants that are delivering and providing take out, and all the other critical workers who are keeping us going right now.

I’m grateful for the youth who are running errands for seniors. I appreciate those who are wiring letters and cards to those who can’t get out or have visitors. Being alone in a difficult situation makes it so much worse, so finding ways to video chat or send letters or care packages to those who are isolated is such a contribution.

In addition to remembering the positives in your life, you may be aware of a silver lining to this crisis. This crisis is not desirable in any way, but sometimes even the worst experiences have positives. There may be some aspects that are pleasant. For me, I have a slower pace of life right now, and I’m savoring that. I’m also enjoying more of what I have, such as time with my pets, Atlas and Plato.

Finding ways to use your time well.
Spend time relaxing. Some of you will have more free time than you usually have, but, because you may not have desired this free time, it is stressful. Yet the time is there. How do you want to spend that time? Maybe you will spend it relaxing in some way. Is binge watching television shows relaxing for you? There are now lists on the internet of “binge worthy” shows to watch. Hallmark is listing 27 new Christmas movies on their channel!

Maybe there are skills you want to learn. Now might be the time to find tutorials to learn them!

You might use some of this time to be creative. Create photo albums, create play lists of your favorite music, learn to cook a certain dish (bread, anyone?) or explore areas near your home that aren’t populated but to which you’ve never been. Perhaps it’s a good time to take a day trip in your car to a new area. Maybe there are books you’d like to read.

Stay Mindful
Staying in the present moment is really helpful. You can continue to socially distance for the present moment, and that’s what matters. Here’s a 60-second mindfulness practice that can help:
You can stop, take a deep breath, and
name 5 things you can see
name 5 things you can hear
name 5 things you can touch
name 5 things you can taste
name 5 things you can smell.

Live a skill-full life
By Karyn Hall, Ph.D., May 6, 2020

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