If you are feeling anxious, overwhelmed, stressed, sad or even angry about coronavirus, you are not alone. We have all been affected in some way. Coronavirus is a global phenomenon, and Reno/Sparks, Nevada is not an exception. In a short span of time, our “normal” at home, school and in our community has changed.
Any change requires an adjustment. Abrupt change, like what we face with coronavirus, can lead to a rollercoaster of painful emotions. That is why we are sharing with you our top five things to do to stay positive during these trying times.
1.Validate your feelings
Practice noticing, labeling and allowing your emotions. Create the intention to do the opposite of suppressing and/or denying your emotions. This may mean giving yourself permission to cry. Challenge yourself when judgments get in the way of allowing your emotions to express themselves. Say to yourself, “Ok, I'm feeling sad. It’s okay to cry. It makes sense why I'm sad.” We are all human after all, we feel a range of emotions, and not all emotions are easy to acknowledge. That doesn't mean we ignore them, fight them or reject them. Instead, practice being kind to yourself.
2. Stay connected
Social isolation can result in feeling alone, especially when support from friends and family have served as a coping mechanism in the past. Think outside the box — how can you stay connected with friends and loved ones while staying safe? This might mean talking on the phone, using FaceTime, or even writing and mailing a letter. Ask yourself what other coping strategies you can develop or practice in order to expand your coping skills.
3. Use healthy coping skills
Trying times can lead to engaging in or relapsing to unhealthy habits. We can’t expect positive outcomes when we engage in unhealthy ways of managing painful emotions. Instead, you can choose to break the cycle and practice healthy coping skills that are likely to result in positive outcomes. Here are some of our favorites:
- Mindfulness — A fun and relaxing way to create positivity in your daily life is a mindfulness practice that helps you stay in the moment. Guided meditation and grounding videos are at our fingertips on YouTube. Search word tips: muscle relaxation, guided imagery meditation, stress meditation, sleep meditation.
- Deep Breathing — Because we feel emotions at a physiological level, engaging in deep breathing is an effective way to calm our bodies when we feel painful emotions. Feeling our emotions is good, being flooded by them isn't. If you are feeling overwhelmed, take a moment to breathe: in through your nose and out through your mouth. YouTube has some great deep breathing videos. Search word tips: square breathing, belly breathing, diaphragmatic breathing.
- Self-Sooth — Engage your five senses: taste, touch, smell, sight and hearing. Self-soothing means calming painful emotions through the use of your senses. One of our favorite techniques is to engage with nature. In fact, studies show that doing so reduces anxiety and blood pressure, while improving emotional well-being. Here is an example of how you can use self-soothing techniques in nature: Step outside to observe and connect with nature. Smell the scents around you, what do you smell? Fresh air, smoke, food? What do you see? Describe for yourself the colors, sights, movements and textures. What do you hear? Do you hear the wind, birds, cars, squirrels, or leaves? If possible, touch something in the natural environment — a leaf, tree trunk, the grass or a flower. The more of your senses you engage, the better the soothing effect.
- Exercise — You may not feel comfortable returning to the gym, or maybe you don't have a gym membership. Find ways to be active, either outdoors while practicing social distancing or in your home. Being active activiates hormones that boost your immune system, can help with relaxation and even improve sleep. Ideas for getting active: go on a hike, take an online yoga class, walk your dog, or try a YouTube exercise class.
4. Practice gratitude
A great way to create positive emotions is by intentionally becoming aware of what you are grateful for. Start by making a list of things you are grateful for, then ask yourself how you can act in ways to show your gratitude. You are likely to improve your mood by engaging in an act of gratitude as simple as saying, "Thank you."
5. Seek professional help
Maintaining our balance during difficult times is hard. Whether current condtions have led you to conider therapy for the first time, or if you’ve been contemplating it for a while, starting therapy now can be a great way to stay positive. If you are having trouble sleeping, eating, or your find yourself not being yourself at work, home or in the community, help is available. Many therapy providers have stayed open during these times, and many are providing teletherapy services (therapy over video).
Family Behavioral Health is accepting new clients -- reach out to us today to learn more about getting started. Visit our website at fbhnv.com, or call us at 775-378-2775.
Whether it’s with us or someone else, focus on the positive and the good that can come from being in therapy. It’s okay to be afraid and make the call.