Raleigh Psychiatrist's Tips for Getting Your Family Through This Pandemic Without Losing Your Mind
Updated: Apr 3, 2020
The recent health pandemic overtaking the world by storm is something everyone is likely concerned about. News headlines beg for your attention even before your first cup of morning coffee. Your kids may be home from school and jumping out of their skin, or perhaps on your living room sofa as they attempt their best gymnastic stunt. Perhaps your normally calm older parent might be uncharacteristically freaking out over the phone just as you are trying to take stock of your pantry's food supply. Your Mind SCREAMS: How Do I Get My Family Through It? Even your regularly enjoyed television shows are interrupted by breaking news updates about the latest dire health statistics and government official warnings all somber and delivered in the most serious of tones. Be sure to take "mental health breaks" the doctor on television advises, apparently not seeing that you are really just about to lose your mind and probably your cool too if just one more thing demands your fragile attention. To make matters worse, you escape into the bathroom for some parental peace-and-quiet to ease your inner turmoil, but the toilet paper roll is just about empty and the store shelves are reportedly as barren as the Sahara Desert without the sand. No wonder ostriches bury their heads there. Even healthy people not in the high risk group still must deal with the overwhelming stress and fear of the unknown problems that may come tomorrow, next week or later down-the-road. Whatever are we to do? An experienced and practical Raleigh psychiatrist has some simple tips that can help immensely. First, just take a moment to breathe in and out until you feel your heart rate and internal panic coming down. Calm Yourself Down by Practicing Mindfulness Mindfulness is something of a buzz word right now, but many are clueless as to what this means. It means to stay in this moment. Don't let your mind race on and on to tomorrow's problems and yesterday's regrets. Stay here, stay focused on now. All of the racing thoughts and frantic worry over what you cannot control anyway is just wasted effort. It serves no good purpose, and in fact worrying keeps your body in that heightened state of fight or flight - our most primal human instinctive reaction to any type of threat or stress. Tomorrow or next month, maybe you can sign up for a nearby yoga class. For now, try finding a meditation app online or search for an exercise program on TV. Stay Positive Be Positive Sounds simple enough, but how do you do it? Try writing out a positive mantra, an inspiring quote or make one up on your own. Write it down on a post it and place where you are likely to see it through the day. Think fridge door, bathroom mirror, inside your car dash and so on. This is so simple, yet it really works. Get your kids on-board by having them find or make up their own positive statements. No essays, no reason to do intensive research. Just simple phrases that are uplifting to the soul. Feeling the Tension Building Inside? Do Something Physical Part of why our tension escalates into a full panic outburst is that there is nothing to stop the process. The act of doing something physical serves to release some of that pent-up emotion in a healthy way. Doctors and athletes know that physical activity can help our body release endorphins into our bloodstream. Exercise is a natural stress reliever and pain control measure all rolled into one. If able, go outside and take a brisk walk, stand on your balcony and do some jumping jacks or open the windows and hop up and down. Get the kids moving too. It is really hard to stay serious and full of overwhelming worry when you are in motion. Keep It Fun & Turn Fear of the Unknown Into an Adventure Laughing out loud is one of the best stress buster ever. Instead of listening to sober news stations with scary images over and over, put on a comedy or listen to a radio podcast that features comedians. Have your kids tell some silly jokes. Have them draw their new adventure with their favorite color crayons or markers. Crank up the music and dance, dance, dance. Let your kids dress up in your clothes, or play some fun board games. While life is sometimes full of things we don't like or understand, time still moves forward and we will get through this. And yes, we all need mental health breaks during tough times. Pause and pet your dog, praise your child, tell your parents you love them. If still feeling overwhelmed, contact us at MedPsych Integrated. Access our other mental health info at https://www.medpsychnc.com.