by Alissa Klugh, MS, LPC, CMHIMP

Everything is cool and calm until we are faced with uncertainty. Just a few weeks ago, we were safely and soundly going about our lives in our regular day-to-day routines. We openly went to restaurants, grabbed a coffee with a friend, and took our kids to school. We went to work. Would you have ever guessed that within such a short amount of time, we would be asked to stop our regularly-scheduled lives? 

You're not alone if you answer "Oh, heck no!" to that question. I'm in the same boat as you. I didn't believe that what was happening in our world was really happening, and now it's here. And we're all being asked to stay in our homes for at least two weeks, if we can.

I don't know about you, but I don't like people telling me what to do. I absolutely love being home and doing nothing - when I choose to do that. But, now that I'm being told I have to, I'm feeling a little claustrophobic. Suddenly, I want to go to the store, grab a drink with a friend, and go to my favorite yoga class. Instead, I am deciding what my latest Netflix binge will be, taking walks to "just get out," painting a bunch of useless canvases, and feverishly searching for ways to continue to provide my clients with therapy when we're being asked to "socially distance" from each other. 

What's it been like for you?

This isn't easy.

In an attempt to provide you with even more information about how to keep yourselves busy, I am here to share with you five quick tips to help keep your mental health on track during this time when panic has gone global. 

  1. Stay Calm. Ha, okay, that's a joke. Telling someone to stay calm works about as well as telling a baby to stop crying. But for real, finding something to keep your mind off of the pandemonium that is happening around us is key. Distraction is great, but don't let all of your distraction be on Social Media and Television where the media is inundating you with updates of what is happening with this virus.
  2. Read a Book. (This is my real #1, so there will technically be six) Pick up a book from that stack of books that you will "get to what [you] have time." Start a book club with your friends and video-chat about it on a social platform like zoom. Make dates to chat on a weekly or every-other-day basis. Do a "March Madness" book bracket where you and your friends share a book to read and break down the best of them to see whose books "win."
  3. Workout Virtually. Many of our favorite local fitness studios are offering virtual classes for you to join or you can join an "on demand" style fitness platform. You can even do workouts with your friends on a video platform to get each other moving, motivated, and be accountable.
  4. Talk it out. Of course the therapist is going to suggest this one, right? Darn right! If you don't already have a therapist, find yourself one. There are plenty of therapists who are offering teletherapy right now where you can virtually have visits with them. Many insurance companies are being great with this, too, and including coverage in plans. Give your insurance company a call today to inquire about your coverage for teletherapy visits. Don't want a therapist? Reach out to a good friend and talk through the ways that you're feeling and what's on your mind. You'd be surprised how much better you may feel if you get all of your overthinking out of your mind and out into the open.
  5. Journal. Man, do I love to journal. I understand that writing is not everyone's forte, but I'm not going to lie, it doesn't matter if it is or not, it can help. Write out your thoughts, jot down your emotions, write a story, do a free-write where you do a free-flow and JUST KEEP WRITING until you can't write anymore. Just like talking, you may be surprised what might come up for you. Have a therapist? Share it with them at your next session.
  6. Clear Your Mind. Wait for it... it's time to meditate. There are great apps out there that can help you with guided meditation (a personal favorite is headspace). It helps get you grounded, centered, and find some inner peace in a time of outer chaos. Do it with your friends over video chat. Teach your kids how to do it with you. Make it a group thing with the people who you live with on a daily basis. Meditation has been proven to help reduce overall anxiety. Give it a try.

We can make it through this challenging time together, even if we need to be apart. I believe in the power of teamwork and if each of us put forth a little bit of time to make some space for this health scare to get underway, then we can survive this time together (but separate). 

Stay strong. Give these suggestions a try. See if these can help you or a loved one in maintaining your peace during chaos.

If you or someone you know is interested in finding a therapist in the Pittsburgh area, please contact us at 412.367.0575 or click here to request an appointment.