It is hard to believe that March 16th was the last day that I saw patients in a regular manner. This virus has changed our lives in so many ways. While I have been enjoying spending time with my kids, and giving them the attention that they need in this truly uncertain and scary time for them, I truly miss being able to provide care to all my wonderful patients on a regular basis.
Instead of posting the usual quick tips this week along with sending out a newsletter, I thought I would take this opportunity to once again check in and see how everyone is doing. Quarantine can be tough on everyone for a variety of different reasons. So right now, I wanted to post some mental health tips for you during quarantine that I have borrowed from a colleague as well as added my own.
Stick to a routine
With no routine to speak of with regards to work or school, it can be hard to stick to a routine. However, as I have spoken about before, goody sleep hygiene is so important for your overall health. Go to sleep and wake up at a reasonable time, have a schedule that is varied and includes time for work as well as self-care.
Dress for the social life you want, not the social life you have
Get showered and dressed in comfortable clothes, wash your face, brush your teeth. Put on some bright colors. It is amazing how our dress can impact our mood.
Get out and move at least once a day, for at least thirty minutes
It is amazing how much fresh air can do for spirits. Also find some time to move daily for 30 minutes if you can. There are lots of resources these days that are offering free classes online. If all else fails, turn on some music and have a dance party. We have spent as much time as we have been able to going for walks, bike rides, playing catch and hockey in the driveway. We have also done some fun workouts and workout challenges as a family. You may not be able to do what our little mighty mouse does in the video, but find something to get yourself moving and stay active!
Reach out to others
Try to do Face Time, Skype, phone calls, texting—connect with other people to seek and provide support. Don’t forget to do this for your children as well. Set up virtual play dates with friends via Face Time, Facebook Messenger Kids, Zoom, etc—your kids miss their friends, too! The kids have been talking to their grandparents almost daily on Face Time of Facebook Messenger Kids. They have been able to connect with some of their friends on Kids Messenger which I know has lifted their spirits.
Stay hydrated and eat well
I talk to all of you about keeping hydrated. Water is so important and especially during this time when you may start eating more because you are stressed or bored. I have often said, if you think you are hungry, have a glass of water first. This may help you not eat just because you are bored, plus it will help to keep you hydrated. Maybe you could even try and cook something new while you have more time on your hands right now. It is a great time to experiment!
Expect behavioral issues in children, and respond gently
This is something I can say I have experienced first hand. We are all struggling with disruption in routine, none more than children, who rely on routines constructed by others to make them feel safe and to know what comes next. Expect increased anxiety, worries and fears, nightmares, difficulty separating or sleeping, testing limits, and meltdowns. Hold stable and focus on emotional connection. Focus on strengthening the connection through time spent following their lead, through physical touch, through play, through therapeutic books, and via verbal reassurances that you will be there for them in this time. Spend extra time playing with children. It will give them a sense of security and perhaps allow you to step back from everything going on right now and focus on the simple things through a child’s eyes.
Give everyone the benefit of the doubt, and a wide berth
A lot of cooped up time can bring out the worst in everyone. Each person will have moments when they will not be at their best. It is important to move with grace through blow-ups, to not show up to every argument you are invited to, and to not hold grudges and continue disagreements. Everyone is doing the best they can to make it through this.
Find lightness and humor in each day
There is a lot to be worried about, and with good reason. Counterbalance this heaviness with something funny each day: we all need a little comedic relief in our day, every day. Luckily I have 2 goofy kids that have put a smile on my face every day, even when the days have seemed long and frustrating.
Limit social media and COVID-19 conversation
Especially around children. One can find tons of information on COVID-19 to consume, and it changes minute to minute. The information is often sensationalized, negatively skewed, and alarmist. Find a few trusted sources that you can check in with consistently, limit it to a few times a day, and set a time limit for yourself on how much you. Keep news and alarming conversations out of earshot from children—they see and hear everything, and can become very frightened by what they hear.
Try to find something positive everyday
I am not saying that you need to ignore what is going on around us, however the mind is very powerful. In relation to number 11 above and limiting the amount of time that you spend reading or listening to things about COVID-19, make sure to find something positive that you can be happy and grateful about as well. This will help to change your mindset, and not be completely consumed by all the negative.
Remind yourself daily that this is temporary
It seems in the midst of this quarantine that it will never end. It is terrifying to think of the road stretching ahead of us. Please take time to remind yourself that although this is very scary and difficult, and will go on for an undetermined amount of time, it is a season of life and it will pass. We will return to a free, safe, busy, and connected in the days ahead.
Don’t forget, that even though regular appointments have been canceled at this time, I am here for you. Please reach out for any help that you may need with your physical or mental health and I will do my best to assist you in whatever way I can.