It seems we just found that we live in a new era where we are fearful of our health and well-being, and we are also afraid of the health and well-being of our loved ones, colleagues, and friends. Those working in hospitals not only take care of dependent elderly parents, spouses, and/or children but also take care of patients. That is why now is the time we are ‘burning the candle at both ends’.
Focus on Breathing
Our flight systems or flights are in overdrive during a crisis. A crisis propels people into reactivity mode. How do you counteract this tendency? It is important to take just 3 minutes of your time to be still and quiet:
1) Close your eyes, then inwardly turn your gaze, and focus on your breathing.
2) Soften your belly by relaxing your abdominal muscles.
3) While s-l-o-w-l-y inhaling, count to three and guide your breath gently toward your navel.
4)If possible, double the length of time you exhale. You can use a soothing image like a stream of warm, shimmering light or a calming phrase like “belly’ (on the exhale) “soft” (on the inhale) to coordinate your breath.
Sit down before beginning your day and repeat this at least 3 times. If possible, you can add regular ‘stillness’ into your daily activities. For instance, you can link your current routine with a stillness break (e.g. before dinner, lunch, and breakfast). Practicing more can help you comfortably suppress fear and panic as they rise, so get more practice.
Control Your Media Exposure
Information is not harmful. However, at this point in our history, we are exposed to several channels for information such as computers, television, radio, or hand-held devices. Therefore, creating boundaries around communications about COVID-19 is critical. It is important to modulate the ‘when’, ‘what’ and ‘who’ informational influx into your life. Of course, reading COVID-19 communications from the respective professional associates and Colleges and updates from your employer is necessary. It is imperative to be selective in the information you read beyond the ‘required readings’. 1) who do you listen to, such as infectious disease specialists, health ministers; 2) the frequency and amount of information, such as national news at 6 pm and 8 am; and 3) the time of day you expose yourself to the information and news, such as 11 pm is not an ideal time to check the latest COVID-19 infection count on the internet.
Sleep Better at Night
Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the best ways of reducing stress, especially if you are under a great amount of stress. It is imperative to sleep better at night after an exhausting day at work. As you prepare for a good night’s sleep, rest, clear your mind. You can decide when you want to ‘unplug’, which can be 2 hours before bed; and you must honor that limit. If you are not on call, replace your mobile phone with an alarm clock. Why? You will ensure nothing interrupts your sleep and you will stop the temptation of checking your cell phone in the middle of the night. (Here are more sleep tips.)
Take Care of Yourself
This is the best time to not only take care of ourselves but to also take care of others. It is usually hard to find time to take care of ourselves during a time of crisis. However, you can improve your stamina and energy with every effort you use to implement self-care strategies (even if it is just for 10 or 15 minutes a day). Some of these self-care strategies you can implement include; daily exercise and/or walks, cooking wholesome meals, journaling, enjoyable hobbies or distractions, (like painting, drawing, reading fiction, playing or listening to music), and maintaining a practice if you have one like martial arts, meditation, or yoga.
The saving grace is this pandemic occurred when there is more telecommunications capability, which is much better than before. Not only in our personal lives but in healthcare too, read this article from Swisslinx about the impact technology has on healthcare. Many of us are learning new technologies, which we thought we could never learn. Now, we are becoming skilled in these technologies. And we have creatively adapted to our physical distance by using technology. Keep in mind that ‘social distancing’ means being physically apart. It does not mean socially disconnected or isolated from our extended family, colleagues, and neighbors. It is important to nurture the broad social ties and networks at this time because they are important to our sanity and well-being.