Coronavirus: Ten-Tips For Keeping Your Life On Track

by Michael S. Phillips, LMHC, NCC, CAMS-II, EMT-CC

When the weekend rolls around or we have that occasional day off from work, it’s nice to sleep late or lounge around the house, however with the possibility of being at home more than we want, it’s important to maintain a normal routine.  As we all have had our lives and routines changed by the coronavirus and we’ve learned and have to now adhere to procedures on sheltering-at-home and social distancing, it’s important to try to keep a sense of normalcy in our lives wherever possible.  In order to do, keep in mind the following tips to help you navigate:

1.     Maintain Your Normal Routine

Get up at a reasonable time, take a shower, brush your teeth, eat breakfast and change your clothes.  Although you may not be going to work/school, plan out activities that would occupy your time as if you were.  (ie: parents may help students schedule their day like periods in school to get work done; parents may set up meetings or activities as if you were at work.)

2.     Continue To Set Goals

It’s important to have things to look forward to.  Setting “short-term achievable goals” helps not only prioritize the things that you want to do but helps you to feel positive and accomplished when you check it off your list.  Try setting 2-3 of these goals daily.  (ie: do the laundry, clean off your desk, pick the clothes up off the floor, learn a new recipe, etc.)

3.     Now’s The Time To Act On Some Of The Goals You’ve Been Putting Off

How many times have you said, “I don’t have time”, “I’ll get to it later” or “It’s not that important to do now”?  The procrastination and excuses, realistic or not, may not be relevant or realistic anymore.  Take the opportunity, and this newfound time to act on and complete some of the items on your to-do list, goals that you’ve put off or even things that you didn’t think you’d have time for.  Work on getting into an exercise routine, binge watch the show you’ve been hearing about, clean out your closet or do that home improvement project that you’ve been putting off.  Making this newfound time productive helps you feel that you’re getting something out of the situation and not as if it’s a punishment.

4.     Stay in Touch / Reach Out

Just because you may be staying at home, doesn’t mean that you have to stay secluded or incommunicado.  There are so many options for communication… take advantage.  FaceTime with grandparents, reconnect with old friends that you haven’t spoken to in a while, set up group meetings with co-workers, or even take online classes.  Having an interpersonal connection with others is important to relieve stress, vent and even have a good laugh.

5.     Have / Create Fun

Look around your house and you are bound to find fun things to take advantage of.  Whether you are home alone or you have a family of ten, you can find things to keep you engaged.  Some examples may include cards, board games, internet games, books, cooking, arts and crafts, hobbies or even at-home campouts.  Now is the time for you to shine and show your true creative side.

6.     Maintain Open Communication

It is not only normal but expected that some people will be worried, concerned or even fearful.  There may be new details or stories coming out every day.  Try to minimize the amount of information that you may be watching or listening to.  Make sure you are getting information from reliable sources.  Maintain an open line of communication with the people around you.  Validate fears and concerns with facts and optimism.  Kids may be disappointed because of missed parties, high school students frustrated due to missing trips or proms and adults may be angry about missing trips.  All are understandable and valid, so talk about it and don’t hold it in.

7.     Don’t Forget To Pay Your Bills

Although many companies are giving extensions, don’t forget to try and stay on top of your normal expenses.  This will not only prevent you from becoming financially overwhelmed but help you continue to feel in control of this part of your life.  If your income situation changes due to being home, knowing what you have available to spend helps you minimize the increased spending and prioritize purchases.  If money is tight, you can try to work out budget plans or payment plans with many services/organizations.

8.     Set Reminders For Yourself

It’s easy when we change routines to forget things or lose track of time.  Medication management is something we want to prioritize.  Set recurring alerts on your phone to help remind you when it’s time to take your medicine.  Alerts can also help you stay focused on your new schedule/home routine.  Setting a periodic alert to take a 5-minute meditation break can help you decompress and give your self a boost of ‘calm’.

9.     Get Some Fresh Air

It’s unusual for us to be stuck inside for long periods of time.  We are used to going from place to place by means of car or bus which includes us going outside.  Feeling as if we are confined to the inside can have its effects on our mental health, so for as long as it’s allowed, get some fresh air.  Take a walk (maintaining social distancing when necessary).  Open the windows in your house and let the fresh air in.  Spend some time in your backyard doing some gardening or just listening to music.

10.  Use the Resources Available To You

Although at times we may feel overwhelmed, feel as if we have no control or don’t know what’s coming next, we have almost limitless resources available to us.  It’s not only helpful but important to know what’s out there.  There are online forums for learning, recreation, exercise or just a laugh that you can take advantage of.  If you are not feeling well, there are telemedicine and telemental health options for our health needs and various options for home delivery for food and medication.  Spend some time going online and find the options that pertain to the things you might need.  “Pre-planning” is a skill where we research, plan and/or practice things before we need it.  (ie: a fire drill)  Pre-plan the situations that apply to you.

 BONUS TIP:

11.  “Me Time”

Although we may feel that we have to do things for others or want to spend time helping others, it is of the utmost importance to also find time for ourselves.  Find “me time” to do things that will help or benefit you!  Take the opportunities to exercise, do yoga, do some breathing exercises, take a nap, do a puzzle in a book or just talk to a friend.

In summation, it is important to create a sense of normalcy even in the most abnormal situations.  Feel free to share these tips with others and if you feel it would be helpful to talk to a professional, please feel to reach out to us.  We are offering a FREE introductory consultation (via telephone or video).

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Michael S. Phillips is a licensed mental health counselor who specializes in working with children, adolescents and adults dealing with stress, anxiety, depression, substance use, grief & loss, post traumatic stress, medical problems, as well as the use of biofeedback therapy.  Mr. Phillips holds certifications as a level two anger management specialist from the National Anger Management Association, and works with both mandated and voluntary clients, is trained in alcohol and substance abuse, and is a certified clinical traumatologist.  Mr. Phillips is also the director of the Center for Coping Wellness Division.  A certified instructor for numerous American Red Cross programs, and an expert in safety and wellness, he has presented programs throughout the New York metropolitan area as well as internationally.  Mr. Phillips has been an Emergency Medical Technician - Critical Care for 28 years and is also certified in Comprehensive Acute Traumatic Stress Management.

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Would you like to speak to Michael, or one of our other professionals, about any self-improvement issues?

We invite you to call the Center for Coping and set up an appointment for a free telephone consultation.

You can speak to one of our professionals and learn more about how you can help yourself to improve the quality of your life.

Feel free to call the Center at (516) 822-3131, or e-mail us for further information at centerforcoping@coping.com.

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