I don’t know about you, but my mental health is feeling particularly fragile right now. I’m nervous, anxious, worried, sad, mad, and at the same time realistic, hopeful and future-oriented. This is a hard space to navigate. Add in the all-out assault of information (and disinformation) on the news and social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and I’ve found myself struggling with getting out of my head, even for a few moments, to enjoy the here and now. So, I propose that not only do we social distance but also information distance.
- Choose a time to get your daily news update. You do not need to watch non-stop coverage. I try to watch the evening news at 630pm and then I turn it off.
- Block or turn off notifications so your phone/watch is not constantly pinging you with unnecessary updates about which celebrity or professional athlete has now tested positive.
- Set up boundaries with family and friends who want to share everything with you. It is ok to say, “thank you for sharing this information, but I really need to take an information vacation right now. I’m safe at home and have everything I need.”
- Try to avoid catastrophizing. This is so hard for me. I tend to go right to the worst-case scenario. When I find myself feeding into this and all of the disinformation, I tell myself “STOP.” I then think, “we are doing this now so we can do all the things we love with the people we love again in the future.”
- Delete apps from your phone to avoid the temptation to read the news or social media whenever you have an idol moment. Try to listen to music, an audiobook or play a game. Even better: social distance yourself from your phone.
- This morning, I took a walk. Being outside and getting some activity in got my mind off of the current situation, even for a brief moment. And, it gets you away from the constant news cycle. You can also try this mindfulness activity while outside. Think of:
- Five things you can see.
- Four things you can hear.
- Three things you can feel.
- Two things you can smell.
- One thing you can taste.
- Think about how and whom you could help right now. Maybe drop off some extra food to a neighbor. If you are going to the store, ask folks if anyone needs anything and leave it for them at their door. Write notes or have your kids draw pictures for seniors in nursing homes who can’t see their families. Say thank you to “essential” workers like those who are stocking the grocery shelves, taking away the trash, preparing your take-out meal and most of all, to healthcare providers who are putting themselves at risk every day. Gratitude goes a long way. Helping out gives us purpose and helps us find meaning in a time when everything feels so out of control.
Take care of yourselves: physically and mentally. We could be in for a long haul, but again, try to keep that big picture in mind. If we do this now—there will be more…birthdays, weddings,