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Feeling overwhelmed while social distancing? Follow these tips!

Managing your mind during social distancing

Keeping your self-care on track while at home

Managing self-care while practicing social distancing is tough. You may not have complete access to your coping mechanisms for depression or anxiety. Social distancing might have you going a little stir crazy or you’re working from home while being a parent/guardian 24/7. All in all, you’re not taking the time to center yourself.

Neighborhoods writer Jamilah Jackson spoke with clinical therapist Natasha Wilson about how to manage your mental state while being at home.

Jamilah:

Okay, Natasha. So in your professional opinion, what would you say would be the biggest issue facing people with social distancing and self-quarantining?

Natasha:

Well, I've actually been meeting my clients online, so I've been noticing that people are really feeling lonely, in ways that they weren't expecting. So on one hand, if you say you have to be at home for two weeks, most people are feeling great, they're thinking about what can I do, where can I go? This is the very opposite of that. So it's revealing a little bit about people's innate natures. This is the introvert's delight, and extroverts are feeling quite strained. And I think overall because a lot of people don't fully understand why they need to stay home, that makes it more difficult too.

Jamilah:

Okay, so you said this is like an introvert's delight and extroverts are kind of going stir crazy. What are you noticing in both of those types of groups?

Natasha:

Well, let's see. The extroverts are feeling a bit lonely and I noticed that they're finding creative ways to find connections. Many of them are doing virtual happy hours via video chat and enjoying their time via phone, so that's been helpful for a lot of people. And I think a lot of people are just doing comfort things like baking and cooking and enjoying time with family.

Jamilah:

You touched on a little bit of what people can do to keep busy. What are some methods that people who suffer from depression or anxiety can do to really, really tap into some self-care mechanisms?

Natasha:

Good question. So what I would recommend is to go outside. We still have that available to us. No, we're not on complete lockdown. So go outside, go for a walk. There's plenty to do. One of my favorite things to do outside is to do a photo adventure with your phone. So wander around someplace familiar or not, and try to see things that you wouldn't normally notice. That can take hours. And certainly, if you have hobbies or creative projects or anything else that you've been wanting to catch up on, this is a great time. I know even for some people who have cleaning habits that are not necessarily stellar, this has been a time to at least freshen up and create an environment that feels good.

Jamilah:

Good, good. Although we're not being social right now, keeping some kind of human interaction while we're in quarantine, what's the importance of that?

Natasha:

Well, it's crucial. We are social human beings, social creatures, and it's imperative that we interact. So I think that that's something that humans naturally do. You look at uprisings across the world, they still find ways to communicate even in the most dire of circumstances. So this is certainly not to that level of crisis and within a short amount of time people will adjust. We can adjust to anything. People are resilient.

Jamilah:

Going back to those of us with anxiety and depression, there's a lot of news going around, people are constantly trying to figure out what this virus is. What do you suggest for people as they consume the news? Because of course we still have to be tapped in and informed, but what do you suggest for people who have that anxiety and that worry about what's going on? How can they ease that worry while staying informed?

Natasha:

Is to manage your consumption of media, first and foremost. Our media is hyperbolic in terms of its intensity, and I think the best thing you can do is check in once a day, just to see what's going on, and after that get back to your normal life. And when you are looking at the Internet, look for facts. I look to the CDC, John Hopkins, the NHS. Those are all credible sources of information. So once you have the facts, you realize that it's actually not as severe as it could be. This is not the bubonic plague. The severity is not that high, but for some people, it can be critical. So for that, the social isolation is necessary, but outside of maybe being a little bored or inconvenienced, it's really no need to panic.

Jamilah:

Okay,

Natasha:

So kick back and relax. Go outside, breathe.

Jamilah:

Again, we're all social distancing. What should people do as they work from home? How can they stay on track with self-care?

Natasha:

Well, this is actually a really good opportunity to re-find some balance. We're expected to be available 24/7 for some people. And that's not really a sustainable or healthy way to live. So this disruption gives an opportunity to re-establish the balance of, “Hey, I'm here working, and I'm going to dedicate this much time to my work. And after that, I'm going to close my computer, shut it down, and do something else.” And I think that people are happiest and healthiest when they find that kind of work-life balance. And this is something that can be done during this time.

Jamilah:

Okay. Perfect. Well, I think that is all that I have. Is there anything else? Any other tips or resources you want to give people?

Natasha:

Find routines. Routines are comforting, and if you build your routine around self-care and work, I think that a lot of people will emerge from this feeling better.

Wilson operates a private practice, Integrated Wellness, in downtown Detroit. She is a licensed clinical social worker specializing in mental health treatment with an emphasis on holistic philosophy. Natasha is available to see adults 18 years or older for issues related to depression, anxiety, gay and lesbian issues, thought disorders and general mental/emotional concerns. She is also a licensed massage therapist.

For more information visit, www.starwellness.net.