On your own in the coronavirus era? Here’s how to cope
Los Angeles Daily News / March 22, 2020
But there are other reminders of just how this is affecting people, Kita S. Curry — PhD, and president of Culver City-based Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, had some numbers.
Between her organization’s suicide prevention and disaster distress hotlines, there were two coronavirus calls in January, 15 in March and 488 up to the middle of this month, she said.
Still … God bless Mother Theresa, but experts say even our isolation doesn’t have to be a “terrible poverty.” You can flip it around, empowering yourself, and others — even in a world where uncertainty and illness is changing hour by hour.
Single myself, I reached out to Curry and to Dr. Kelly Greco, assistant director for outreach and prevention services at USC’s Counseling and Mental Health Services and clinical associate professor at Keck School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry — for some wisdom.
Here are themes they shared on how to protect your mental health as we go through this thing. Note: these are good for all of us, single, family, friends, lovers, moms, dads, grandmas, grandpas.
First off. Underpinning much of that wisdom was the idea of control, or the lack of it.
- “You have to focus on what you can control and let go of what you can’t,” Greco said. That means developing a plan and a routine that can you can do something about, rather than letting the constant headlines, social media and uncertainy overwhelm you. Create and maintain some predictability.
- “You need to give yourself permission to feel what you feel,” she added. Don’t be too hard on yourself for thinking bad thoughts. But try not to reinforce them. So, establish a sleep routine, turning off the news if it gets to be too much, let that person you’re talking to know you’ll need to talk later or about something else, if its too doomy and gloomy.
- Get into a problem-solving mindset. Greco described it as being vigilant about “What’s the problem in front of me?; What are my support options? And then taking a plan of action.”
- Be good to yourself. That might even mean lowering expectations on yourself — the idea that you can’t do it all. Suspending judgment on others, was another theme.
- Give/serve where you can, even from a distance, being mindful for social distancing. “Do something so that you feel that you are making a difference,” said Curry.
- Remind yourself of what you value: Friends, family, health …
- Know your triggers, and what raises your anxiety. If you can stay away from them, do it.
- Harness a sense that others care about you. That’s really important for us singles out there. Being on your own doesn’t mean you’re doomed. In fact, Curry said it’s not necessarily true singles always are the one who have more intense feeling of loneliness. But you’ve got to create the conditions so that you’re not always feeling like no one cares about you.
- Social media, phone, email, texts. Social can me a double-edged sword. But when used to connect with loved ones, it’s a way to touch people’s heart, and your own.
- Walk. Hike. Smile and say hello — even from more than 6 feet away.
- One more point on social media: Don’t overdo it. Eyes on a screen full of bad headlines all through the night is probably not a great idea.
- Be creative and do stuff you’re good at. Got a hobby? Do it. Got a cool way to connect with people via social media, or even from across the street. Do it.
- Some numbers to remember: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255; National Disaster Distress Helpline: Call for immediate counseling 24/7 at: 800-985-5990; Or text TalkWithUs to 6674