Self-Care in times of COVID-19

SELF-CARE IN TIMES OF COVID-19

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Dr. Aileen Blitz, Team Psychologist, myFace Center for Craniofacial Care NYU Langone Health.

Remember to consult your doctor and local regulations advice regarding leaving your home.

After many weeks of isolation and staying indoors, what advice do you have to stay calm and optimistic?

We are all facing a challenging time but the most important thing to do is keep perspective, this will not last forever, nothing does.  

 

Reach out to friends, family, old friends you haven’t spoken to, co-workers—stay connected, every single day.

 

Try to go outside if you can get some Vitamin D (sunshine) for at least 20 minutes a day.  As Spring blooms around the country, it is wonderful to watch flowers bloom and take in the season with a whole new perspective.

 

It is important to keep a routine – of waking up and going to bed, of exercise – even if it is light stretching or a walk around your own house, etc.

  

Get creative: Cook, bake, maybe adult coloring books for relaxation, jigsaw puzzles, learn to draw or paint, garden if you have outdoor space or try to create an indoor herb garden, rearrange your furniture—it might feel like you just redecorated

What are your thoughts about meditation? For those who have never tried it, how can they start?

It is simple, all you have to do is sit or lie down in a quiet space and tune in to your breathing. With each in-breath, say to yourself “I am breathing in” and with each out-breath, say to yourself “I am breathing out.”

 

You can also count 1 for breathing in and 2 for breathing out. Your thoughts will wander. That’s okay. Just let them and then come back to your breath, In and Out or 1 and 2.  Try this for a few minutes in the morning and if you can later in the day and at night.  This will help you to begin to settle your mind and body at the same time.  If you like it, you can start to move on to a body scan—allow each breath in to go into a new part of your body from head to toes and back up again. With each out-breath allow your body to relax, let go 100 percent. Keep going through each part of your body sending the healing calming in-breath to each part. We can only relax the constant worries and thoughts if we relax our bodies.

What advice do you have about diet?

Eat as healthy as possible!  Try to eat lots of fruits and vegetables and protein. Do not skip meals. Make dinner a time to come together with family members.  

 

If you have concerns about nutrition, please contact Deborah, our team Nutritionist at: Deborah@myFace.org. Or look at this Q&A session we recently posted from Deborah.

Any ideas of how to make the most of this family time?

Growing up I always loved and felt a little excited when my father said, “Time for a family meeting.”  What would we be talking about? Was I in trouble?  Did my older brother do something outlandish?  Usually it just meant that we all sat together in the living room for about a half hour or so and talked about things that might be going on… maybe stuff at school or at home or we might have discussed an idea to go on a vacation. Sometimes it was about weightier issues, such as a relative being ill or maybe a conversation about the new puppy being sick.  

 

In any event, I learned to rely on these family meetings as an emotional support, a check-in and sometimes a reality test. I felt taken care of by my parents because I knew they were thinking of my brother and me. It was a safe emotional space to talk, listen and sometimes to just vent our fears or our excitement about something and sometimes it was a time to make important decisions. 

 

Given the intensity of the times we are in and the stress and uncertainty of how we will all move forward (which we will undoubtedly do) you might consider a version of your own family meetings to talk with your children and help them to express themselves, ask questions, talk about what is going on in a way that they can understand and to reassure them that things will not stay this way forever and that things are okay and will be okay in the future. 

 

We recommend a wonderful children’s book The Story of the Oyster and the Butterfly which was specially written by Ana Gomez in response to our current situation.  For additional recommendations you may reach out to Jennifer Russell, LCSW the myFace Center team Senior Social Worker who can email you with additional suggestions. Jennifer.Russell@nyulangone.org

I can’t stop watching the news, what are your thoughts about that?

Limit the amount of time you watch the news. Yes, we have all become news junkies, but we really need to be mindful of how much the news can affect our state of mind and well-being. We want to be informed, but we don’t have to hear the same information all day, every day over and over 24/7. Limit your news intake to an hour a day if you can. This will help you to stay informed, but not feel so saturated and taken over by upsetting information.

What other ideas do you have about ways I can stay busy?

Volunteer in any way you can.  This will make you feel less helpless, give you a sense of doing something worthwhile, and help others in need.  It will also help you to lower your anxiety by distracting you from being overly focused on yourself and your worries.  Maybe you could tutor a child online or do a cooking class on FaceBook. There are so many ways to help others and still be safe.

 

Feel free to click here to watch or download a recording of Dr. Blitz’ informative webinar and Q&A. You will walk away with useful tips and ideas about how to help cope during this challenging time with resilience, positive thinking and action.

What should families do if they have more questions?

myFace is here to support you and help your family navigate this challenging time. Don’t hesitate to contact me via email Aileen.Blitz@nyulangone.com.  If you need to reach the myFace staff please write to info@myface.org or you can call us at 917-720-4701 Monday through Friday, 9am–5pm, Eastern Time.

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