Clinical psychologist Dr. Judy Ho shares some easy tips to combat some of the normal fears that might be coming up right now, and she wants to remind us all to keep perspective about what things are in our control, and what are out of our control. Remember to be kind to yourself right now and acknowledge that it's okay to be having extra feelings during this time.
Will I Survive This Financial Hardship?
If you are stressed about money during this time of career and market upheaval, Dr. Judy wants you to remember that you're not alone. A lot of people are struggling with the exact same problem. She shares that it's hard to know when or how, but eventually things are going to build back up. The economy will bounce back as it always has historically. She says, "Individually that may still cause panic and anxiety because you don't know when your next paycheck is coming in, but the most important thing is to use this time to really increase your own financial literacy."
So, you cannot control that you lost your job, or when you will be able to start working again, but you can buff up on your finances. Do the things that you can and gain more financial literacy so you can make the most of your assets.
- Learn about what you can do with the money that you have at your disposal
- Apply for unemployment
- Learn and understand the specifics of the government stimulus package
I Feel so Alone!
It's not that you are alone, but more the perception that you are alone. Dr. Judy shares that everybody has to learn to self-assess. Some people are going to get cabin fever at a way slower rate than someone else. If you know that you are going to feel lonelier, even if you're surrounded by your family, then get proactive about reducing your feelings of isolation for yourself.
Dr. Judy says, "When you help other people you help yourself as well. It makes us feel like we are connected to a larger fabric."
- Make sure you are part of a meaningful contribution one way or another by donating your time to help others - Ask a neighbor if they need groceries, volunteer your time online, or write a note to your mail delivery person thanking them for continuing to work during this time.
- Have shared experiences like watching a TV show with someone, have a meal together, a share a workout over video chat
Am I Going to Be Single Forever?
Dr. Judy shares, "It's important to remind ourselves that this is temporary." While it may not feel like it, she shares, "This will not be our new normal forever and you will not be alone the rest of your life."
- She suggests using this time to re-establish your own self-identity by doing and learning things that you make happy. That will help you to stay busy and productive. Plus, you will make yourself a more interesting partner when you can get out and date because you will have so much to talk about.
- You can have meaningful dates right now - you just can't be physical with someone you don't know. Dr. Judy shares that she "loves it!" because it forces us to go back to more traditional dating, pre "hook-up" culture. It's really about getting to know someone and having a quality conversation and courtship. You get to be a lot more choosey, and find out who is really worth the wait.
- You can become a lot more sophisticated with weeding out who you may not want to date. Plus, you get to look forward to meeting the person you have great conversations with.
Will I Ever Sleep Again?
When you are worried or have a lot of issues on your mind, it's hard for your body to settle down and your cortisol-levels might be chronically raised throughout the day, which does not help you sleep. Also, the fight or flight system is engaged, which does you zero favors as well.
- Stick to a routine. Try and go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Take a shower, change into work clothes. These things are very important for your circadian rhythms.
- Spend 10-20 minutes in the sunlight every morning.
- Get some exercise, which really helps to improve your sleep.
- Have a good sleep routine. If you are reading COVID-19 updates right before sleep, that's not going to help you. Give yourself an hour before you want to fall asleep to power down your devices and do other types of things. Doing things that are relaxing like knitting, reading and doing a puzzle. Use your sensory elements to calm down as well like lighting a candle, dimming your lights and playing soft music.
- Don't get into bed until you are really tired.
Am I Self-Medicating Too Much?
When you are feeling anxious, it's easy to try and numb your feelings with food, alcohol, drugs or even online shopping. Dr. Judy shares instead of always reaching for that glass of wine, do other things that are going to feel beneficial.
- Deep breathing actually resets your body's response to stress. When you are deep breathing, it is signaling to your body that everything is okay and you can relax. It helps you to gain some power.
- Practice mindfulness and try and do a grounding activity that takes you back to the present moment. Or mindfully eat a snack like a strawberry. You can describe it, smell it and slowly taste it.
- Find ways to connect with people outside of a zoom happy hour. Pick up the phone and actually call someone.
To hear more from Dr. Judy Ho, check out her new podcast "SuperCharged Life."