I hope all of you are well and healthy and staying out of harms way!!! There is little doubt that these are certainly challenging times–the likes of which most of us have never lived through. However as I have learned over my many years of being a psychologist-with crisis comes opportunity if we can keep our wits about us to create it or see it.
As I was putting the final touches on my “Tips” which I had created for my patients- I quickly realized that my family and friends could benefit from them as well- and so I decided to share them with all of you! Even if they help only one person that will be a good thing–and already I have heard that many have found these to be useful.
- Take Care of Yourself—Have a personal strategy for survival. You can’t be there for anyone else if you don’t first take care of you! What this means is that you need to see to it that you get adequate amounts of sleep, food, and exercise each day. Hydrate, take a multivitamin, get some sunlight.
- Create a daily structure so that you have a routine and some activities to do. See to it that you make time for work, play, connecting to others, accomplishing something tangible, and chilling out. Activities like cooking, baking, planting, coloring, cleaning out drawers and closets or deleting emails, scanning old pictures can be therapeutic and calming.
- Go out into nature. Take a break from sitting for long periods of time or being indoors and go outdoors—even if only for a few minutes. Take a walk or just look at the clouds, sky and the world. Take a moment to feel the warmth of the sun or the wind on your face. Be present in that moment and realize that you are part of the organic flow of a world that is much larger than yourself.
- Maintain your social connections. Even though you need to keep your physical distance—you don’t have to be socially distant. Keep loved ones as close as is possible. Put aside time to either call or video chat with family and friends on a regular basis.
- Acknowledge your feelings of vulnerability and/or anxiety when they get triggered and realize that they are a natural response to what’s going on. Recognize and reassure yourself that there are actions that you can take such as handwashing, staying at home, maintaining a physical distance and wearing a mask if you do need to go out that will go a long way in keeping you and your loved ones safe.
- Be self-protective– by minimizing how much media you consume or how much talking to negative people you will do. Pamper yourself, take a warm bath or shower,
- Identify at least one thing you have wanted to do now that there is more time to actually do it. It could be a book you wanted to read or a movie or series you wanted to watch, or something you wanted to learn. Don’t think about it make a plan and just do it!
- Reach out and actually touch base with someone and let them know that you have been thinking about them and wondering how they are doing during this difficult time.
- Be mindfully present and try to pay attention to being in the moment whenever you can. For some this may mean to take a moment to just notice your breath-taking a few deep breaths while noticing the very basic rhythm of how you breathe. For others it may be to notice the sounds, smells, or sensations of being aware in the moment. Tasting your food or feeling/hearing the patter of your shower, paying attention without judgement to your thoughts, feelings, sensations, showing up and just being in the here and now.
- Be kind to yourself as well as others. Things are really tough these days and what we all could use is some good old-fashioned kindness. Compassion for ourselves and others. Think about the kind of person you would like to be through all of this. Aspire to be that better version of yourself, being aware of the humbling aspect of our human condition and the recognition that we are all in this together.
Gayle R. Berg, PhD is a practicing psychologist in Roslyn Heights, New York. She received her doctorate degree in Psychology from New York University in 1983. While earning her degree, Berg worked full-time at Mt. Sinai Hospital in the Out Patient Department of Psychiatry as the Assistant Clinical Director of the Day Treatment Center. She helped to design and develop this innovative treatment program for individuals suffering from major psychological problems and diagnoses. Berg’s commitment to the recovery movement and to improving the quality of mental health care nationwide includes decades of state and national legislative advocacy and leadership and service on numerous public and private committees.
Gayle R. Berg, Ph.D.
70 Glen Cove Rd. Suite 209
Roslyn Heights, New York 11577
Phone 516-621-0888 Fax 516-626-1843