Managing Your Mind During Self-Isolation
Are you finally taking this COVID-19 outbreak seriously? Are you staying home a good deal of the day? Are your health worries elevated? Is your income going downhill? Are you driving yourself crazy thinking about what might happen to you and your loved ones?
Yes, all these concerns are valid. So, what will you do? Is it time to panic? Or is it time to learn how to cope with uncertainty by actively managing your mind?
But what do you know about how to manage your mind? Have you ever read a book on it? Not likely. You may have read books on weight management, time management and money management. But mind management? Thought management? Not hot topics... until now.
The way you think has a huge effect on how you’ll cope with this new reality. How you frame your thoughts matters. “It’s not what you think, it’s how you think it!” So, here are a few ideas on how to tame your fears without undermining the seriousness of our new reality...
- Control what you can; let go of what you can’t.
You can’t sit this Corona Virus down and tell it, you've been behaving badly. Or send it to its room for an extended time-out if it won't go away! But you can listen to the medical experts who tell you how important it is to constantly wash your hands (while singing two refrains of Happy Birthday!), use hand sanitizer and stay at least 6 feet away from others. Doing what you can do and not focusing on what you can’t do will help to relieve your anxiety.
- Appreciate a Slower Lifestyle
If you’ve been living a busy life - running here, running there - taking care of this, taking care of that - then collapse at the end of the day, staying at home might feel like a prison sentence. There’s so much you can’t do! So many people you can’t see! So many places you can’t visit!
But what if you view this time at home as a gift? A time to be quiet, to sit still, to do nothing. No, it won’t be easy. You'll probably get buggy, viewing it as a complete waste of time. After all, you’ve got so much to do! There’s no time to rest and reflect. Daily responsibilities gobble up your time. And what is lost? Or, should I say, what part of you is lost? Have you come up with an answer?
Once you get past the resistance to being still, that stretch of time can become the best part of your day. Being centered, being in the moment can bring about a deep sense of well-being that will ease your tension and calm your fears. Stay still long enough and you’ll begin to know yourself in a new way.
- Catch Up on Tasks You Put Off
Okay, so you can’t stay still all day! So what are you going to do when your daily routine is disrupted? Well, think about all the things you were going to do if only you had the time and energy? Were you going to clean out your closets? Organize your papers? Spend fun time with your kids? Or spouse? Read a book? Call a long lost friend? Update your resume? Play a game?
Whatever it is, don’t keep putting it off again. This is your opportunity to do it. You’ve got the time, the energy, the desire. Go do it now!!!
- Use Positive Words
“Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never harm me!” Wrong, wrong, wrong! Your self-talk, like your thinking, can harm you. Say exaggerated things to yourself and you'll ramp up your fears. So, don’t minimize this serious situation. But don’t maximize it either. We will get through this. We will take care of ourselves. We will take care of each other. We will become more courageous, more compassionate, more charitable.
Linda Sapadin is a psychologist and personal coach in private practice who specializes in helping people enrich their lives, enhance their relationships and overcome self-defeating patterns of behavior. For more information about her work, contact her by email or visit her website at PsychWisdom.