Tips for Thriving During Quarantine

Seize the OpportunityMENTAL HEALTH WELLNESS TIPS FOR QUARANTINE

Here are some excellent coping strategies and mental health wellness tips posted by New York State doctoral-level clinical psychologist, Eileen Feliciano, Psy.D., based on her work with clients struggling with quarantine.

1. Stick to a routine. Go to sleep and wake up at a reasonable time, write a schedule that is varied and includes time for work as well as self-care.

2. 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. Take the time to do a bath or a facial. Put on some bright colors. It is amazing how our dress can impact our mood.

3. Get out at least once a day, for at least thirty minutes. If you are concerned of contact, try first thing in the morning, or later in the evening, and try less traveled streets and avenues. If you are high risk or living with those who are high risk, open the windows and blast the fan. It is amazing how much fresh air can do for spirits.

4. Find some time to move each day, again daily for at least thirty minutes. If you don’t feel comfortable going outside, there are many YouTube videos that offer free movement classes, and if all else fails, turn on the music and have a dance party!

5. Reach out to others, you guessed it, at least once daily for thirty minutes. Try to do FaceTime, Skype, phone calls, texting—connect with other people to seek and provide support. Don’t forget to do this for your children as well. Set up virtual playdates with friends daily via FaceTime, Facebook Messenger Kids, Zoom, etc—your kids miss their friends, too!

6. Stay hydrated and eat well. This one may seem obvious, but stress and eating often don’t mix well, and we find ourselves over-indulging, forgetting to eat, and avoiding food. Drink plenty of water, eat some good and nutritious foods, and challenge yourself to learn how to cook something new!

7. 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 is wonderful, bubbles to blow or blowing watercolor on paper through a straw are visually appealing as well as work on controlled breath. Mint gum, Listerine strips, ginger ale, frozen Starburst, ice packs, and cold are also good for anxiety regulation. For children, it is great to help them create a self-regulation comfort box (often a shoe-box or bin they can decorate) that they can use on the ready for first-aid when overwhelmed.

8. Spend extra time playing with children. Children will rarely communicate how they are feeling, but will often make a bid for attention and communication through play. Don’t be surprised to see therapeutic themes of illness, doctor visits, and isolation play through. Understand that play is cathartic and helpful for children—it is how they process their world and problem solve, and there’s a lot they are seeing and experiencing in the now.

9. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt, and a wide berth. A lot of cooped up time can bring out the worst in everyone. Each person will have moments when they will not be at their best. It is important to move with grace through blowups, to not show up to every argument you are invited to, and to not hold grudges and continue disagreements. Everyone is doing the best they can to make it through this.

10. Everyone find their own retreat space. Space is at a premium, particularly with city living. It is important that people think through their own separate space for work and for relaxation. For children, help them identify a place where they can go to retreat when stressed. You can make this place cozy by using blankets, pillows, cushions, scarves, beanbags, tents, and “forts”. It is good to know that even when we are on top of each other, we have our own special place to go to be alone.

11. Expect behavioral issues in children, and respond gently. We are all struggling with disruption in routine, none more than children, who rely on routines constructed by others to make them feel safe and to know what comes next. Expect increased anxiety, worries and fears, nightmares, difficulty separating or sleeping, testing limits, and meltdowns. Do not introduce major behavioral plans or consequences at this time—hold stable and focus on emotional connection.

12. Focus on safety and attachment. We are going to be living for a bit with the unprecedented demand of meeting all work deadlines, homeschooling children, running a sterile household, and making a whole lot of entertainment in confinement. We can get wrapped up in meeting expectations in all domains, but we must remember that these are scary and unpredictable times for children. Focus on strengthening the connection through time spent following their lead, through physical touch, through play, through therapeutic books, and via verbal reassurances that you will be there for them in this time.

13. Lower expectations and practice radical self-acceptance. This idea is connected with #12. We are doing too many things in this moment, under fear and stress. This does not make a formula for excellence. 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.

14. Limit social media and COVID conversation, especially around children. One can find tons of information on COVID-19 to consume, and it changes minute to minute. 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, and set a time limit for yourself on how much you consume (again 30 minutes tops, 2-3 times daily). Keep news and alarming conversations out of earshot from children—they see and hear everything, and can become very frightened by what they hear.

15. Notice the good in the world, the helpers. 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 counter-balance the heavy information with the hopeful information.

16. 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.

17. 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, purge your closet, put together that furniture, group your toys. It helps to anchor and ground us when the bigger things are chaotic.

18. 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, start a 15 hour game of Risk, paint a picture, read the Harry Potter series, binge watch an 8-season show, crochet a blanket, solve a Rubix cube, or develop a new town in Animal Crossing. Find something that will keep you busy, distracted, and engaged to take breaks from what is going on in the outside world.

19. 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.

20. Find an expressive art and go for it. Our emotional brain is very receptive to the creative arts, and it is a direct portal for release of feeling. Find something that is creative (sculpting, drawing, dancing, music, singing, playing) and give it your all. See how relieved you can feel. It is a very effective way of helping kids to emote and communicate as well!

21. 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.

22. Reach out for help—your team is there for you. If you have a therapist or psychiatrist, they are available to you, even at a distance. Keep up your medications and your therapy sessions the best you can. 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. Your children’s teachers and related service providers will do anything within their power to help, especially for those parents tasked with the difficult task of being a whole treatment team to their child with special challenges. Seek support groups of fellow home-schoolers, parents, and neighbors to feel connected. There is help and support out there, any time of the day—although we are physically distant, we can always connect virtually.

23. “Chunk” your quarantine, take it moment by moment. We have no road map for this. We don’t know what this will look like in 1 day, 1 week, or 1 month from now. Often, when I work with patients who have anxiety around overwhelming issues, I suggest that they engage in a strategy called “chunking”—focusing on whatever bite-sized piece of a challenge that feels manageable. Whether that be 5 minutes, a day, or a week at a time—find what feels doable for you, and set a time stamp for how far ahead in the future you will let yourself worry. Take each chunk one at a time, and move through stress in pieces.

24. Remind yourself daily that this is temporary. It seems in the midst of this quarantine that it will never end. It is terrifying to think of the road stretching ahead 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 feeing free, safe, busy, and connected in the days ahead.

25. Find the lesson. This whole crisis can seem sad, senseless, and at times, avoidable. When psychologists work with trauma, a key feature to helping someone 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?

Living Together Guidelines

Willow Cottage Basic Guidelines

by Andrine de la Rocha, Massage Therapist

Welcome to Willow Cottage! We’re happy that you’ll be joining us for a time. In order to make your stay more wonderful for everyone, please be mindful of these basic guidelines, and feel free to ask questions if you’re unsure about how they apply to you – they do apply to you, regardless of your status as resident, guest or family member. These are not ALL the rules, but basic rules of thumb which will help you to know how we roll. We request that you read this document and agree to the basic rules if you choose to stay. If you are uncomfortable with or don’t agree with the guidelines in this document, please tell us so we can negotiate terms that work for everyone.

We value friendship: Join In!

  • come to meals (even if you didn’t cook)
  • join us for movies in the living room
  • play fun games with us
  • offer to help us with yard work, cooking, cleaning
  • join us on walks, bike rides, yoga, running
  • tell us about yourself and/or ask us about ourselves
  • respectfully discuss politics and religion

We value contribution & reciprocity: Chip In!

  • clean up after yourself
  • clean up after someone else
  • wash dishes, or put them in the dishwasher
  • unload the dishwasher and dish rack
  • wipe off the counter, table, cutting board, stovetop
  • sweep the floor, wash a sink, scrub a tub or toilet
  • offer to cook a meal
  • buy groceries if you can
  • if you use something up, replace it, tell someone, or at least write it on the grocery list
  • help clean up after meals

We value order and beauty: Keep Things Tidy!

  • keep your personal belongings in your personal space, not the public spaces
  • if you feel compelled to move something, please put it back where you found it
  • if you want to borrow something, ask before using it and return it in good condition
  • if you break something, fix it or tell someone who can get it fixed
  • offer to help fix it, or help pay to have it fixed or replaced
  • consider taking off your shoes when entering the house to preserve our beautiful refinished floors; there are shoe racks in the hallway and many slippers available

We value safety and security: Be Aware and Secure!

  • lock the door when you go out and at night when going to bed
  • lock the garage if you use it to keep bicycles secure
  • introduce yourself to people so we know who belongs in the house

We value health: Respect Others’ Needs!

  • use only unscented products and avoid toxic cleaners & other allergens that trigger illness
  • don’t smoke cigarettes, cigars, pipes or anything else on the property
  • don’t bring animals into the house without explicit permission
  • please keep pork and shellfish out of the house
  • if you are cooking, ask about dietary restrictions (and ask for help if needed)
  • keep all illegal substances off of our property

Our House is a Resonant Musical Instrument: Sound Carries Unusually Well:

  • keep noise to a minimum between 10pm and 9am
  • please be gentle when closing doors; keeping your hand on the doorknob will help keep doors from slamming
  • walk quietly on the stairs, and anywhere on the 3rd floor

We value the Earth: Conserve!

  • Reuse, Recycle & Compost
  • avoid packaging when making purchases
  • bring your own shopping bags and containers to the store
  • sort your trash before filling our tiny garbage can
  • ask if you’re not sure about how to dispose of something
  • take large amounts of recycling directly to the outdoor can
  • turn off lights & fans when you leave a room
  • take shorter showers, turn off taps to conserve water
  • close windows in cold weather

We value communication: Talk to Us!

  • if you don’t know where something goes, ask!
  • if you don’t know how to use an appliance, ask!
  • if you would like to have visitors, let us know when, for how long & introduce us
  • for guests staying more than 1 or 2 nights, please ask permission
  • please be responsible for your guests following the basic guidelines
  • if you will be gone for several days, please let us know so we don’t worry

Related: Make sure you’re getting your Vitamin T right now!

 

 

 

Vitamin T

Vitamin T (Healthy Touch) and deepening connections with self and community – from Mr and Ms T

During these challenging times, it’s essential to maintain the TLC normally found in touch contact. Here are some suggestions for increasing energetic and physical TOUCH in your life.

Touch with Self – showering and massaging yourself with soap, shampoo or wash cloth; more time brushing your hair or massaging your scalp; body-tapping and shaking; dancing in your living room

Touch with Nature – forest bathing, re-wilding, lying on the earth; sun bathing, rain bathing

Touch with Spirit – meditation, gratitude practice, Qi Gong, T’ai Chi; eye-gazing with someone physically distant but present or on FaceTime or Zoom

Touch with Voice – talking with friends and loved ones (with soothing, calming tone); singing alone, online (Albert, Alex) or with others

Touch with Beauty – Spring flowers, trees, artwork, sunsets

Touch with Scents – flowers, cooking aromas, soaps, candles

Touch with Taste – really slowing down and taking in tastes, textures; meditative food prep with tasting; using chopsticks to help slow down pace of eating

Breathing Baths – staying in touch with your breath; keeping lungs healthy and strong with deep, focused inhales and exhales; breathing into other internal organs

Vitamin T

Get the Book!

Vitamin T – A Guide to Healthy Touch by Bob Czimbal and Maggie Zadikov

2501 SE Madison St., Portland, OR 97214    503.232.3522

zoom

We can talk on Zoom, here.