1. Get a good night’s sleep – quality is much more important than the quantity
2. Create a routine and be sure to include time not only for chores but especially for self care!
3. Dress for the social life you want, not the social life you have. Get showered and dressed in comfortable clothes, wash your face, brush your teeth. Put on some bright colors. It is amazing how our dress can impact our mood!
4. Get out at least once a day, for at least 20 mins and breathe! If you are concerned of contact, try first thing in the morning, or later in the evening and less traveled streets. If you are high risk or living with those who are high risk, it can be as simple as opening the window and let some fresh air in - It is amazing how much fresh air can do for spirits!
5. Move at least 30mins/day. If you don’t feel comfortable going outside, there are many online offers and YouTube videos! Or if all fails turn your headphones on and have a silent disco!
6. Reach out to others and connect with other people at least once per day to seek and provide support.
7. Drink plenty of water, eat some good and nutritious foods!
8. Develop a self-care toolkit. This can look different for everyone. A lot of successful self-care strategies involve a sensory component (seven senses: touch, taste, sight, hearing, smell, vestibular (movement) and proprioceptive (comforting pressure) - An idea for each: a soft blanket or stuffed animal, a hot chocolate, photos of vacations, comforting music, lavender or eucalyptus oil, a small swing or rocking chair, a weighted blanket. A journal, an inspirational book, or a mandala coloring book, bubbles to blow, mint gum, ginger ale, ice cream.
9. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Stressful times can bring out the worst in everyone. Each person will have moments when they will not be their best. It is important to move with grace through blowups, to not show up to every argument you are invited to, continue disagreements and to not hold grudges! Everyone is doing the best they can to make it through!
10. Lower expectations and practice radical self-acceptance. Under fear and stress we tend to do too many things all at once. Instead, give yourself what psychologists call “radical self acceptance”: accepting everything about yourself, your current situation, and your life without question, blame, or pushback. You cannot fail at this—there is no roadmap, no precedent for this, and we are all truly doing the best we can in an impossible situation.
11. Limit social media and COVID conversation, especially around children. One can find tons of information on COVID-19 to consume, and it changes hour to hour. The information is often sensationalized, negatively skewed, and alarmist. Find a few trusted sources that you can check in with consistently, limit it to a few times a day.
12. Notice the good in the world! There is a lot of scary, negative, and overwhelming information to take in regarding this pandemic. There are also a ton of stories of people sacrificing, donating, and supporting one another in miraculous ways. It is important to counterbalance the heavy information with the hopeful information.
13. Help others. Find ways, big and small, to give back to others. Support restaurants, offer to grocery shop, check in with elderly neighbors, write psychological wellness tips for others—helping others gives us a sense of agency when things seem out of control.
14. Find something you can control - and control the heck out of it. In moments of big uncertainty and overwhelm, control your little corner of the world. Organize your bookshelf, your closet or put together that furniture. It helps to anchor and ground us when the bigger things are chaotic.
15. Find a long-term project to dive into. Now is the time to learn how to play the keyboard, put together a huge jigsaw puzzle, paint a picture, binge watch an 8-season show! Find something that will keep you busy, distracted, and engaged to take breaks from what is going on in the outside world.
16. Engage in repetitive movements and left-right movements. Research has shown that repetitive movement (knitting, coloring, painting, clay sculpting, jump roping etc) especially left-right movement (running, drumming, skating, hopping) can be effective at self-soothing and maintaining self-regulation in moments of distress.
17. Find lightness and humor in each day. There is a lot to be worried about, and with good reason. Counterbalance this heaviness with something funny each day: cat videos on YouTube, a stand-up show on Netflix, a funny movie—we all need a little comedic relief in our day, every day.
18. Reach out for help! If you have a therapist or psychiatrist, they are available to you, even at a distance. If you are having difficulty coping, seek out help for the first time. There are mental health people on the ready to help you through this crisis.
19. Remind yourself daily that this will end. It seems in the midst of this quarantine that it will never end. It is terrifying to think of the road stretching head of us. Please take time to remind yourself that although this is very scary and difficult, and will go on for an undetermined amount of time, it is a season of life and it will pass. We will return to feeling free, safe, busy, and connected in the days ahead.
20. Find the lesson. This whole crisis can seem sad, senseless, and at times, avoidable. When psychologists work with trauma, a key feature to helping omeone work through said trauma is to help them find their agency, the potential positive outcomes they can effect, the meaning and construction that can come out of destruction. What can each of us learn here, in big and small ways, from this crisis? What needs to change in ourselves, our homes, our communities, our nation, and our world?
A note from Flow Foundation:
This was adjusted and adapted from a US based psychologist on how to cope during COVID-19