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Coping in the age of COVID-19

how to deal with ptsd

All of us are being impacted by the seemingly ever-changing current events since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Everyday life is changing. We are all asked to be responsible for our own health and to protect the health of others around us. We need to keep a 6 foot “social distancing” boundary in mind anytime we are out in public. I actually prefer to think of this as physical distancing, and encourage deeper social connection, but differently, at the same time. When we do go out to the grocery store or wherever is necessary, you can see the anxiety in people’s faces and if you’re sensitive, you can feel their energy. Intention and taking care of yourself is more important now than ever. Stress and anxiety affect our mental health as well as your physical well-being. There really is a connection between the mind and the body and there are things we can do to manage our own stress and keep ourselves healthy.

When a person is  anxious and afraid the limbic center or emotional center of the brain is activated and the part of the brain that helps make reasoned decisions is literally offline. The brain starts to trick the body into going into Fight-Flight mode. If this goes on long enough, panic can happen. To counteract this, do 2 things: Slow and deepen your breath and challenge the thoughts that are running through your mind. While you are taking long, slow deep breaths ask yourself, “is the story my mind is making up really true”? Many people “catastrophize”, meaning their brain spins worst-case scenarios. It’s a mind trap called a cognitive distortion. Problem is, the more your unchallenged thoughts take over, your biology follows. That kind of stress leads to irrational and sometimes dangerous decisions and damages the body and immune system.

·  When you’re out in public, offer good intentions and a smile to the people you encounter. It will positively affect their energy and yours as well. 

· Don’t hoard-shop. Leave some for the next person. It’s the right thing to do. This is not the zombie apocalypse, and we are all in this together.

·  It’s important to have clear and trustworthy information, but avoid binging on news and make sure you get your news from reliable sources. 

·  Beware of information coming from anyone with a financial or political motive for telling you one thing when health experts are telling you another. Listen to the experts. 

·  Enlist critical thinking and avoid sources promoting conspiracy theories. 

·  Limit your consumption of social media, drugs and alcohol. 

·  Connect with others meaningfully. Talk with people you trust and share your concerns and feelings.

·  Make sure you get good sleep and eat as healthy as you can. I know that’s not always easy these days. A lot of people “emotionally eat” during times of stress.

Reach Out When You're Ready.

·  Take care of your body and your mind. Take long slow deep breaths, stretch or meditate. Exercise. If you have a Yoga, Qi Gong or Mindfulness practice, make a commitment to upping your practice. If you don’t already have one, consider adopting one. Qi Gong in particular can be a real game-changer. I’ll share more on that in a different post.

·  Develop a Gratitude Practice: Consciously spend time reflecting on what’s Good, and on what you have to feel Grateful for, and allow yourself to feel that

·  It’s Spring. Put out some bird feeders and get into birdwatching in your own backyard. You’d be amazed at how fun it is and how it connects you to nature.

· Get out into your backyard and do some gardening. It gets you in touch with the earth and is grounding.

· Use essential oils or burn some incense to bring a calming atmosphere to your home.

· Play soft comforting music to help calm your nervous system.

·  The added stress of today can exacerbate pre-exiting mental health issues like depression and anxiety. If you’re struggling emotionally, consider seeing a therapist or getting other professional help. A benefit of technology is that Virtual Sessions are easy and available. 

I’m meeting all my clients through Video or the Phone right now. 

· Most importantly, take care of yourself and protect everyone around you by following the guidelines suggested by the CDC and healthcare professionals. It’s working.

Here is a great source for accurate and updated info in Orange County and nationally: 

Hoag Hospital Covid-19 Information Resource

We will get through this, together, and life will get back to a new normal. In the meantime, let’s all care for one another and for ourselves, remember the important things in life, and work to keep it all in perspective. Now is the time for a communal attitude, not us vs. them.

Reach Out When You're Ready.