Managing Your Mental Health While in Isolation

  • You cannot control the situation, but you do have a responsibility to yourself to manage your reaction to this crisis

  • Even though this may take a few months, remember that this IS temporary

  • Be creative and find new ways to connect to your community: online classes, dance parties, happy hours and even stoop chats offer social time a safe distance

  • Limit the amount of time you spend on social media covering the virus and fallout - seek out funny or educational information instead

  • Learning is a great way to keep your mind busy and feel like you are accomplishing something

  • This is a great time to learn that new chord, teach yourself to cook or begin that walking or new fitness plan - you can find many online classes like mastering photoshop or how to market your business on social media

  • Pay close attention to your thoughts - not everything you think is true, learn to know when your mind is just bored and interpreting facts as problems to stay occupied

  • Maintain regular sleep routines and eat healthy foods

  • Try to maintain physical activity and get out in the sun everyday

  • Establish new routines - keep some kind of schedule so that you don't find yourself 'wondering where the day went'

  • For those working from home, try to maintain a healthy balance by allocating specific work hours, taking regular breaks and if possible, establishing a dedicated work space

  • Get dressed everyday - even if you don't have to see anyone else

  • Help your elderly neighbors shop for groceries or pick up prescriptions

Self-Support at Home

Breathing is significantly determined by your current thoughts. Begin to pay attention to your thoughts and remember that negative thoughts can lead to panic, anxiety and depression. Remember that not everything you think is true. Our brains are much like computers and get bored very easily. When our brains are not occupied, they tend to transform the facts into problems just to stay engaged or entertained. 

 

Take a moment to prepare yourself before doing breathing exercises: find a quiet spot, a comfortable seat, sit up straight, put both feet on the ground and clear your mind. 

 

Try the following three breathing techniques and decide which one feels right for you, then commit to it. Work up to 3 rounds a day. 

 

Humming Bee Breath: 

If you have ever experienced singing in a group, or felt the vibrations from your instrument or speakers, or curled up next to a purring cat,  you have experienced the power of sound vibrations.

The Humming Bee Breath disengages your fight-or-flight response (sympathetic nervous system) and activates your parasympathetic nervous system which greatly reduces stress when fear arises, and helps you to feel calm and clear. 

 

Humming Bee Breath Action:

  1. Place one thumb in each ear, directly in the opening of the ear canal 

  2. Inhale for a count of 6

  3. Exhale through the nose, while making a buzzing sound in the nasal passages, like the high-pitched sound of a bee

    1. Exhale until you need to inhale again, without straining

  4. Repeat 3 to 9 rounds of inhales and exhales

4-7-8 Relaxing Breath:

The 4-7-8 breathing helps to reduce anxiety and may help you fall asleep. 

  1. Empty your lungs 

  2. Breathe in quietly through the nose for 4 seconds

  3. Hold your breath for 7 seconds

  4. Exhale forcefully through the mouth, puckering the lips for 8 seconds while making a ‘whoosh’ sound

  5. Repeat the sequence up to 4 times

 

Box Breath:

 Box breathing is also known as Square Breathing, Combat Breathing or Tactical Breathing. It helps you focus, get control of your emotions and thoughts, and manage stress, all in a matter of seconds.

  1. Breathe in slowly through your nose for a count of four

  2. Hold your breath for a count of four

  3. Exhale slowly through your mouth for a count of four

  4. Hold for a count of four

  5. Repeat 4-10 times, visualizing each number as you count

 

Calm Breath:

  1. Take a long, deep breath and exhale slowly while silently repeating the word ‘relax’ 

  2. Keep your eyes closed

  3. Let yourself take 5-10 natural, easy breaths 

  4. Starting at ‘10,’ count down with each exhale

  5. While you are breathing comfortably, notice any tension, perhaps in your jaw or forehead or stomach

  6. Imagine the tension releasing slowly, like a balloon with a tiny pin hole

  7. When you reach ‘1’ again, open your eyes


Getting a Grip on Grief:

Many people feel that expressing sadness or grief is weak, but it is actually the opposite 

 

When you are brave enough to express your sadness or vulnerability,  you are much stronger and more resilient. Life is often not easy. Getting to know your grief helps you know yourself better. Knowing your true feelings, including your desires, fears and dreams helps you to be better prepared when facing challenges. 

  1. Do not stuff your grief - it will show up, often when you least expect it

  2. Give yourself permission to grieve

  3. Understand that there is no certain length of time you should grieve

  4. Everyone’s grief is unique to them

  5. Grieve as often as you need and for as long as you need 

  6. Be careful not to isolate yourself

  7. Reach out to friends, family, online or in-person once quarantine is over

  8. Make time to feel your feelings 

  9. Try to recognize where you feel the grief in your body - is it your neck, stomach, heart...

    1. breathe deeply into that area

  10. Write, sing, play music - do whatever feels nurturing - even if it’s to cry or yell, just don’t hold it inside

  11. Try to stay physically active - trapped emotions create tension, anxiety, depression 

  12. Move stuck energy through deep breathing, exercise and other forms of creative expression 

  13. The pain of loss never goes away, but it does shift and watching your thoughts is a part of that

    1. Are you blaming yourself? If so, reach out for support so that you can shift that blame to compassion

Being Mindful of Your Breath May Help Your Physical and Mental Health

Being Mindful Means Paying Attention To Your Thoughts, Feelings, Sensations and Environment. Mindfulness can help you regulate your emotions, reduce stress, anxiety and even depression.

 

How Can I Learn To Be Mindful?

  • Begin by paying attention to your thoughts

  • Are your thoughts negative or mostly positive?

  • Negative thinking can lead to panic attacks, anxiety and depression

  • Be aware that not everything you think is true

Why Are So Many of My Thoughts Negative?

  • Our brain's job is to help keep us safe and help us think through problems

  • When our brain is not occupied with helping us navigate a dangerous situation, it tends to stay engaged by interpreting the situations around us 

  • For most of us, it stays engaged by pointing out the problems

  • Watching your thoughts like a movie helps to separate fact from your brain's interpretation of the facts

  • Knowing that not all of our problems need our constant attention, frees up our minds to be more creative and peaceful