‘Today I sat in my therapist chair and listened to a middle school student sob over FaceTime because she can’t return to school.’: Therapist shares mental health tips to survive quarantine

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“I sat here for 9 hours today. My home therapy chair and office to telehealth clients. People are ranging from okay, to crying, to too anxious or unable to sleep. Some are enjoying PJs and television.

Today I sat with a middle school student when she heard she would not go back to school. I listened to her sob over FaceTime. I listened while a single woman discussed being home alone for the last several weeks and feeling so isolated, she sleeps to pass time.

I sat with parents overwhelmed with trying to work from home and do eLearning with special needs kids. I’ve processed how psychosis, depression, and bipolar episodes will spike because of the stress and changes we are all experiencing…

We have never in our lifetime dealt with the loss of our lives as we have at this moment. What you choose to do with your days, your kids, your thoughts, and your routine can shape outcomes that will impact you for months to come.

If I had a book on this, I think it would say:

1. Set a routine. Sleep especially. Don’t nap all day and don’t stay up all night. Put your kids to bed a little early to decompress. Sleep is our reset button. Take melatonin if you need to.

2. Exercise. I don’t care what you do, but no one is going to feel well if you do not move for days at a time. Drink water, walk, exercise videos, bike, or lift weights (or small children).

3. Don’t feel the need to have perfection in any area of life right now. Performance and stress are linked to increased agitation and several health issues. Eat an Oreo, skip an eLearning assignment, or forgo making a fancy warm dinner and instead have cereal if it helps. Give yourself some grace! Especially all your types of friends.

4. Get ready for your day. Shower or put on fresh clothes. Do your hair. Wear real clothes if it helps.

5. Go outside. Inhale deeply. Hear the birds. Smell the buds blooming. Feel the sun and wind on your skin. Take it in. Look at the creation, the beauty… feel small for a moment

6. Always have a list of things to do when you’re bored. Boredom is good for creativity, innovation and targeted goals. You’ll be amazed at what you can do if you turn off the screens and just think about what you can do. Think projects you’ve wanted to do, closets you wanted to clean…

7. Don’t watch the news for more than an update. If images are too intense, just read an article from a trusted source. It does no good to know every fact about the virus. Likely it’s doing more harm than good.

8. Get online groceries. Limit your experiences in stores or the public if you’re getting panic attacks.

9. Social distancing is a false word. We just need physical distancing. Call your grandma, best friend, your sister, and your mama. Call your coworkers, college roommate, and zoom chat your tribe. No one said to be a hermit…

10. Check-in with your people. Are they ok today? Say one emotion word and if it’s not positive talk through what might help. A walk, bubble bath, a Disney plus marathon?!? Whatever works!

11. It’s ok to be sad, angry, anxious, terrified, happy, lonely, or grieving. This is a global trauma. It will affect some more than others. Be kind, help others, and more importantly, ask for help!

If you need help during this time, please call a therapist.

We are all working together to provide support and resources. We all have training in helping with grounding, emotional regulation skills, and stress reduction. You are not bothering us! We want to help you!

Almost all insurance carriers have approved telehealth, and some are even providing it for free! Call your carrier today and ask for in-network providers in your area. Meet online and if you need to, keep meeting even after distancing.

Be safe! Wash your paws, wear a mask, and tell your people you love them.”

Courtesy of Kerrie Byrnes Siegl

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kerrie Byrnes Siegl. You can follow her journey on her website and Facebook. Submit your own story here and sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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