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Helpful Tools to Use During the Self-Isolation and Stress of COVID-19

March 20, 2020

With the rapidly spreading Coronavirus, increases in stress, anxiety, and depression are an understandable consequence.

The entire world feels like one big question mark. We don’t know exactly what to expect and it can feel frightening and overwhelming. There is no one person this hasn’t hit in some very personal way.

Parents are suddenly having to do double duty, working (assuming they are still able to work) and watching their children, which includes helping them with their schoolwork.

Kids are unable to socialize and play they way they are accustomed to. They are missing the structure and socialization they are receive in their schools. This is not great for them and only adds to the stress parents feel.

Very few are immune to the financial stressors of this situation.

Many seniors and those with compromised immune systems live in fear of exposure to the Coronavirus. This fear is shared by those who love them.

This, my friends, is a perfect storm. People are stressed, anxious, and depressed. Many not only worry for their finances, their loved ones, and their children’s wellbeing, they also fear that their mental and physical health will be eroded during these strange times.

So here’s what we know:

Many of the things that play a part in keeping us physically and mentally healthy are compromised.

Connection with others
Physical activity
Access to food and cleaning supplies
Financial security
Safety of loved ones
Feelings of safety and security
Maintaining calm

There are things you can do to bolster your physical and mental health in the face of this:

Connection- use this time to make the phone calls you don’t usually have time to make. Catch up with old friends and family. Facetime and Skype are nice in that they give that face to face connection. For this who live with family, fur babies, or friends, use this time to do feel good activities. Plan activities together that you can look forward to doing together, down the road. Watch movies, play cards, and board games. Give massages. Snuggle.

Service- Reach out to your family, friends, and neighbors in a safe manner. Checking in with others to make sure they are doing okay, feels good. To the extent that you can safely do so, help them. I have seen volunteer opportunities making protective masks for medical personnel and fostering pets. I am sure there are many more opportunities to choose from.

Cleaning and Organizing– Making your surroundings more beautiful whether it be yard work, touching up paint in the house, or washing windows. Clean out your closets or garage. Anything that can brighten your environment is helpful.

Physical activity– If the weather and the law permits, walk, go running, or ride bikes. If you have indoor exercise equipment, use it. You can get yoga or other exercise videos on Youtube. If you need the structure of a schedule there are even online streaming exercise and yoga classes that you can participate in.

Gratitude exercises– Every night its great to list the things that you were grateful for during the day. I start from wake up and chronologically list the things I am grateful for. Could be a great cup of coffee. Seeing the sky. Seeing a bird flying overhead. Reading a funny post on social media. Whatever brought you joy that day. It makes such a difference.

Relaxation activities- This could include a hot bath or a nice relaxing shower, listening to music, cuddling your kitty or pup, meditation, breathing exercises, or moments of mindfulness in which you pay attention to what you can see, hear, smell, taste or touch. You can find yoga for relaxation and guided meditations on YouTube.                                                                                                                    

Therapy– Even those accustomed to handling a lot of stress or chaos, may be feeling overwhelmed and wish to seek support by entering therapy for the first time or returning to therapy. With the Coronavirus, face-to-face appointments are no longer advisable.

My group practice has been doing online therapy for nearly three years and my solo practice which was formed in early 2019, is and always has been, exclusively online.

If you are interested in online therapy, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We can see if we are a good fit. If we aren’t, I am very happy to help you find a therapist who you can work well with. I consider this part of my job. I love helping people and want them to get the best care possible. I do this free of charge.

Online Support Groups– In addition, to individual therapy, there are other ways to benefit from support. You can participate in group therapy or a support group.  I, personally, am offering a free/low cost support group. The first session is free. After that, there will be a nominal fee. Space in these groups are limited so if you find one that you are interested in doing, reach out to the group leader, they may fill up quickly.

Make Self-Care a Priority- Above all, try to remember to take care of yourself first. You can’t be helpful to others if you haven’t taken adequate care of yourself. Make sure you’re eating well, getting rest, spending time on calming activities, and exercising if at all possible.

We are all in this together. You are not alone.

Catherine Saxton-Thompson is a South Floridian, wife, mom, beach-lover, ACT therapist & coach. She sees people in her international practice, Wholehearted Life Therapy, where she provides coaching, therapy, and behavioral health consulting, face-to-face (in Florida), and virtually/online, throughout the US and beyond. When she’s not with a client or working on her latest video or article, she is swimming in the pool, at the beach, snorkeling or swimming in the ocean, or just hanging out with her husband, son and two fur babies, a pup and a kitty. To learn more or to schedule a free mental health check-in, go to

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