In the two weeks since I sent my last newsletter about teletherapy we have all experienced many changes. Many of us are sheltered in place. We are stuck at home, balancing work and children. We are unaccustomed to the constancy of family being around, while some feel very isolated. What to do?
Before I give more information, I want to let you know that for people in Oregon and some in Hawaii, I can bill telemedicine visits to your insurance. That change is a huge step in the right direction. I do not know how long this will last. And obviously I cannot do neurofeedback. But I can help with many medical issues and provide counseling during this difficult time. One of the curious aspects of this virus is that people with underlying conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure may be at greater risk to this virus. Naturopathic medicine has much to offer regarding treating these conditions.
How to Cope with the Anxiety
What can you do to help yourself and your family? Here’s a list of the main items that I have compiled from looking at several studies about this, along with my experience of working from home for many years.
Create a routine and stick to it! This is important even not in quarantine. We are creatures of habit in a lot of ways. Our bodies like consistency. I’m not suggesting that you have to do or eat the same thing every day. But going to bed and waking at the same time daily is good for our systems. It reduces stress and helps the adrenal glands be balanced. Lower stress means higher immunity.
Another aspect of a regular sleep routine is it helps our bodies produce the proper amount of melatonin. It may be related to stress and cortisol levels, but higher melatonin levels also improves immunity. There are a few studies suggesting that melatonin levels that function properly help fight off coronavirus. (There have not been studies on supplements, only looking at melatonin in the body.)
Every hour of sleep before midnight is like two hours after midnight to the body. I recommend going to bed by 10 PM. It can also help your weight too.
Reframe your situation. Instead of thinking you are stuck inside the house, do projects you have not had time to complete. Always wanted to plant a garden? Get to it! Or maybe you wanted to explore an aspect of yourself. Whatever it is, you have time to do it now. Even if you are still working, most people will save commute time. (Not to mention getting ready for work time.) Use that extra few hours to do something you have wanted to do.
Avoid the news. I know some have a morbid fascination with what’s going on. Or maybe there’s this unconscious belief that knowing what is going on will protect us. What is happening extends way beyond this outbreak. (I’ll write more about this later.) It is unlike anything we have faced in our lifetimes. But constantly going online and reading about what is going on is not good for anyone’s mental health. (I’m talking to you too, Facebook users!) The constant barrage of information is stress provoking even in good times. It’s super intense. Step away from the computer. Unless you’re watching funny cat videos.
Keep things clean and decluttered at home. I have a confession to make. In the last three weeks, I have cleaned my house more times than I think I have in the last three years. Seriously! I have become a clean freak. And I have decluttered everything too. It is calming. I can think. I feel there is space to think.
Start a quarantine ritual. This is odd I know. And it can be anything to meditating to journaling. Writing about what is happening can be super helpful for people.
Use Video Chat and the phone to connect with friends. This is super important, particularly for teens. I think the most stressful thing for adolescents is the social isolation. Younger kids often miss their peers too. But they can talk on the phone or computer. (You can limit the time if that is appropriate. And limit social media.)
Kids and Relationship Issues
Signs of Stress in Kids. Along this line, if you have children there are definite signs of stress that may require help in this situation. Here’s a partial list:
- In younger children, excessive crying or irritation.
- Returning to outgrown behaviors (for example, toileting accidents or bedwetting).
- Excessive worry or sadness.
- Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits.
- Irritability and “acting out” behaviors in teens.
- Poor school performance or avoiding school (For those of you with closed schools, I’ve found that most kids want something to do to feel a little productive. So if they are avoiding everything, that could be a sign).
- Difficulty with attention and concentration.
- Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past.
- Unexplained headaches or body pain.
- Use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.
Take space. There was a tiktok video showing a cat upset that the humans were always at the house. My brother related to the cat. He works at home and found his family being shuttered with him to be stressful at first. And maybe others can relate. Take space for yourself and communicate to others around you. Explain calmly that you need time to yourself. NOTE: I will do a relationship workshop in the near-term. More on this later.
Get outside if allowed by law. Being in nature is best, if you can and properly socially distance yourself. Having that time is necessary regardless. But this is a stressful time.
Teletherapy for anxiety or just to talk. Get help when you need it. It’s so important to use professional help. As I mentioned, I provide services and can bill insurance for Oregon and Hawaii. But if you are in another state, telemedicine is required coverage now. Check with your healthcare provider because there are stipulations by different companies. But overall, there is help available. You can always call 808-726-2772 to schedule or ask about coverage.
Norma Crocker says
Thank you for all of your great information Dr. Gil. We will be calling to set an appointment.