In this Coronavirus Pandemic, Anxiety is Contagious Too

We know that isolation has both physical and emotional consequences to wellbeing. 

First off, let’s be clear – even though we call it social distancing, physical distancing does NOT mean emotional distancing, or social isolation.

Anxiety is the most contagious affect in the human experience

Here are just a few ideas to keep everyone connected

  • Reach out with a call to those you care about. Connect with facetime or zoom and hold a social gathering of friends or family.  
  • If you are able, consider offering to shop and deliver food to those who may not have family or resources. Leave groceries on their porch or at their door and have a safe distance (six-foot apart) conversation with them. 
  • Schedule calls with those you love. For instance, if there are family members in independent, assisted living, or nursing homes, schedule virtual visits with children; calling or video chatting on different days of the week.  This will help with issues of isolation for all involved, as many independent or assisted living facilities or nursing homes are now on lock down. 
  • Use this opportunity to spend quality time together.  Put your work down and play with your family if you are quarantined with them. Create memorable moments!
  • Share humor with friends and family, like funny video clips, mimes, or podcasts. 

In our culture, most of us are moving so fast and furiously that we miss time to replenish.  

Because we aren’t commuting, we have the unexpected gift of time for those projects that we haven’t been able to get to like putting pictures in albums or fixing things around the house.   In addition to accomplishing things that need to be done, don’t forget to find balance and care for yourself.

  • Get enough sleep
  • Exercise is very important to wellbeing so take a hike, a bike ride, or a run for exercise as our gyms, yoga studios, and other fitness programs are closed.
  • Consider a virtual exercise class.  It’s an opportunity for social emotional connection, as well as a chance to move.
  • Allow yourself the time to read, listen to music, write poetry, or make art.  All are worthwhile experiences that feed the soul.
  • Look online for opportunities based on your interests.  Enjoy virtual concerts, plays, operas, and creative groups.  
  • Share experiences like worship in your faith tradition, meditation groups, sing alongs, and dance parties.
  • Learn something new with Podcasts and Ted Talks, or take a virtual class.  

Emotional distancing can happen too.  It’s easy to numb out in the face of all of this. Instead, listen to your body and your emotions so you take care of yourself emotionally.  

Rather than ignore or dismiss negative emotions, which reinforces internal loneliness, notice your inner self talk. 

Be as understanding and compassionate with yourself as you would with others!

Being quarantined may trigger memories of other times when you felt out of control or had to face the unknown alone.  If you’re feeling triggered, an online therapist can help!  

Listen to the parts of you that are anxious and worried about the unknown.  Let those inner voices know that you are aware of them and understand how they feel. 

Put your arms around them and comfort them. You can even put your hand(s) on your heart, or your arms around you literally. This offers a somatic awareness that there’s someone listening.  

Be aware of the “what ifs” and remember that worrying about what we can’t control doesn’t give us control. If you can, breathe in a little self compassion.  You can only do what you can do. Nothing more.  

Remember, Information is power: Get your news from reliable sources as it will be changing fast Your local press conferences, the CDC, and the World Health Organization (WHO) have the most up to date information.

If you find yourself glued to the media, or feeling overwhelmed, consider taking a news break.  

If you find yourself picking up on communal anxiety, you can bet your children will be feeling it too.  Remember: Fear is contagious. Let’s spread Joy not anxiety!  

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