During the coronavirus social distancing experiment we are currently undertaking, it is important to pay attention to your mental health.
One of my professors in graduate school, Dr. Herb Dandes, told me that we can choose one and sometimes two options in most situations: we can choose to change the way we are thinking about something, we can choose to change the actions we are taking, and/or we can change the situation.
These three options pretty well encompass the strategies used by cognitive-behavioral psychologists.
In cognitive-behavioral psychology, the therapist helps clients change what they are doing and change the manner in which they are thinking or acting to affect a change on their emotional experience.
One key component of sadness, anxiety, and depression is the loss of purpose or meaning. In this post, I am suggesting that we start to make meaning out of the social distancing experience.
Reframing our loss of everyday routines as a purposeful act to help ourselves, our families, and our communities. We are social distancing in order to “flatten the curve.“ This helps us reduce the burden on medical providers and hospitals.
Additionally, we can reduce risk to ourselves and others. The loneliness that accompanies social distancing can be difficult and frightening for us in this anxiety-provoking time.
In order to cope with the loneliness, we could choose to change our actions. Some healthy actions include connecting with others through phone calls, video conferencing, FaceTime chats. You may even choose to send out some letters to friends & family.
If you have children at home, they can send letters, artwork, etc., to family members. During this time of social distancing, many of us are having the common experience of struggling with our lack of routine contact and togetherness.
We are facing this process together, apart.
Read our next post in this series: Distant Socializing and Other Survival Strategies