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March 16, 2020

As the global public follows guidelines to “social distance,” people are feeling more anxious and depressed.  Many are glued to internet news, fueling a sense of doom. While it is important to stay informed from reputable news sources, and practice health measures to mitigate the impact of the virus,  it is also important to stay balanced in your mental health. Here are a few tips for managing your stress and depression as we hunker down and do everything we can to not spread the virus:

  1. BALANCE: Give yourself a time limit for checking news and social media.  Unchecked internet surfing will put your stress hormone (cortisol) into hyperdrive, inflaming a domino effect on your entire emotional state and immune system.  Give yourself an hour in the morning to check the news, and an hour in the evening (or whatever ratio you feel is balanced), and otherwise, shift your attention to positive things in your life (play games with loved ones, read a good book, watch an uplifting movie, etc).
  2. SELF SCAN AND BREATHE: Pause three times throughout the day and do a simple mindfulness exercise.  Self scan…. Slowly pay attention to each part of your body and notice what is happening there. Is your chest tight?  Are your shoulders hunched up? Is your stomach in knots? Notice where you are holding stress and sadness. Then, do some slow steady breathing into each of these areas, and see if you can release some of that stress.  Simply noticing and breathing for a period of 10 minutes can have profound effects.
  3. EXERCISE:  Gyms and yoga studios have closed their doors. Exercise is critical for mental health.  What can you do to exercise? Do you have access to local trails to hike? Or even a neighborhood to walk in?  Maybe you have an ab routine you can do in your living room. Nevertheless, be sure to get some exercise each day.
  4. GARDEN: Spring is in the air, and the days are getting longer. We are big fans of horticulture, and know the value of horticulture therapy.  Gardening has a profound effect at regulating the nervous system and combating depression. Get outside, build a garden bed, plant some seeds.  Nurture your garden each day. Besides, you get the added benefit of having food to eat:)
  5. TALK TO SOMEONE: You may want to hire a therapist via “telehealth,” as emotional support is critical right now.  Many therapists are moving their practices on-line to help with social distancing. Talking about your feelings can be extremely relieving and validating. Alternatively, find some space to talk with family members, video chat with friends, have a conversation with the neighbor from the driveway (although keep 6 ft distance).  Be sure to emote and find healthy outlets.

If you would like to discuss mental health strategies in more depth, please feel free to contact Mike Sullivan at mikesullivan@pacificquest.org

Stay healthy and balanced everyone! 

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