Staying Sane During a Pandemic: PRACTICE 8 COVID-19 Wellness Tips
Do you feel your world has been turned upside down by COVID-19? If you’re anything like me you watched the corona virus go from minimal concerns about a distant threat to heightened concern about cases right in your home town. In a matter of weeks our country has gone from bustling cities, eating out at restaurants, lounging at beaches and parks, to being sheltered, quarantined, and social distanced at home. You may feel caught off guard by the lack of urgency at the beginning of the virus to now being told we must stay home to save lives. That's a lot to take in.
We are currently living in a historical event and for many it can feel like a bad dream or even nightmare. Missed graduations, cancelled weddings and trips, school closures, job loss, and death of loved ones are all realities that we face. For those confined to your homes, you may feel cabin fever, suffocated or perhaps disconnected from loved ones. For those who continue to work outside your home you may have high levels of fear or even doom. All of these experiences are in the context of 24-hour news coverage about the illness and its impact around the world. Because of this, many emotions may arise – fear, anxiety, sadness, grief, loss, confusion, anger, and a general sense of having no control. The impact that COVID-19 has on our lives is indeed a stressor and some may even experience it as traumatic which may have lasting effects. Again I acknowledge, that’s a lot. Even writing this brings up discomfort and stress for me. So how do we stay healthy and well during such a trying time?
I use the acronym PRACTICE to illustrate eight tips to practice wellness in the midst of COVID-19:
Prepare - Prepare a plan in case you or someone in your household becomes sick. Having a plan ahead of time may ease concern about contracting the coronavirus, increase preparedness, and alleviate stress. Preparation also includes preventative measures such as regular cleaning and maintenance of your home and plans around essential activities such as when, who, and how (you or an appointed person) will handle grocery store runs in order to maintain safety.
Rest - Rest and balance is key. While working from home with children or other household members, you may feel the pressure of attending to your own needs, household needs, and your job responsibilities. Do your best to manage this work load and give yourself grace during this time. You may not be as productive as you want and that’s okay. Be intentional about taking time to rest. It may actually be what you need.
Acknowledge - Acknowledge your feelings and limitations. Identify your feelings whatever they are, sit with your feelings without judgement, and allow yourself to express your feelings as needed. Notice how you feel based on the media you consume. It’s understandable to want to know what’s happening and stay informed, but excessive media exposure can increase anxieties and fears. Therefore, limit media coverage in accordance with your own emotional needs. For example, choose one or two times during the day to check credible media sources and spend the rest of your time doing other activities.
Connect - Connect with others. Spend time with the people in your household – play games, cook together, collaborate on projects, talk, and watch television together. Be creative about social engagements and connect with others outside of your home by using technology and other means – zoom happy hours, drive by gatherings and birthday parties (at a social distance), Instagram live parties (e.g., Club Quarantine). These can be fun and exciting methods of engaging with others!
Telehealth and telework - Telehealth and telework can ease the difficulties of being at home. Take advantage of technology to work from home, hold meetings at a distance, and engage your healthcare providers when available and appropriate. This may include teletherapy if needed.
Insight - Insight into your needs includes emotional, physical, and spiritual needs. You can meet these needs by practicing healthy habits. Now is the time to cook and eat healthy, bathe regularly, hand wash, sleep, and engage in physical activities. If it’s safe, take a brief walk outside (while practicing social distancing), open windows, stand on the balcony or spend time in your backyard. Sunlight and fresh air can be helpful. Meditation, yoga, prayer, mindfulness, deep breathing, relaxation techniques, spiritual readings, writing, healthy sexual activities, and online spiritual services may all support your needs.
Create - Creativity can be powerful. Take this time to catch up on projects and ideas you have but never have the time to work on. Sometimes our best creations come during stressful times. Note, while this may be helpful, be mindful not to create pressure for yourself. Creativity is meant to increase joy and relaxation, so engage at your own pace and if and when it is helpful.
Establish - Establish routines. Setting up a flexible routine may give you a sense of normalcy which can be comforting at this time. Remember to practice routines with flexibility.
COVID-19 has drastically changed our lives for the foreseeable future. Together we can beat this virus by doing our part to stay home. While we do so we can PRACTICE these eight tips to stay well in the midst of the uncertainty.