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  • Melissa Weissinger

Self-Care in the Time of COVID 19

This post was written by Susan Rothbauer, Nurse Consultant at Community Montessori. She is sharing some of her tips to help during these particularly stressful times. You can also check out the recent Courage @ CM email from December 15th for more tips and resources!

As we near the end of this most trying year, many humans (and maybe even some of us!) are experiencing COVID burnout, overwhelm, and an increase in anxiety, depressive symptoms, and substance abuse. Now that we have a vaccine on the way, many of us see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel, yet we are still IN THE TUNNEL!

Going into our period of Winter Break, I wanted to take some time to personally share some suggestions from me as a nurse, but also a fellow human for activities that you may consider to incorporate to support yourself or your family.

It’s important to remain steady in our safety practices, wearing our masks, social distancing, and avoiding crowds, etc., but it’s also important to treat ourselves with care and loving attention. Here are some ways that we can care for ourselves, and, in some cases, even help others in the process.

  • Order dinner out. We can support local restaurants without putting ourselves at risk, by having our food delivered, or picking it up, often at curbside.

  • Drink lots of water.

  • Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and veggies.

  • Get some exercise each day, preferably outside if the weather permits.

  • Increase handwashing! Wash your hands hourly for 20-30 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Teach younger children this important habit as well.

  • Limit exposure to the news or social media, particularly if it contributes to feelings of anxiety.

  • Volunteer for a cause. Many volunteer opportunities are on hold for now, but you can still help by providing food and/or money, and there is no shortage of organizations supporting both people and animals. Or donate blood or platelets. These activities support those less fortunate than ourselves, and they also provide a big boost to our self-esteem.

  • At least once a day, clean common surfaces such as kitchen and bathroom countertops, light switches, remote controls, and other high-touch surfaces.

  • Learn a craft, such as knitting or soap-making. With a little practice, you can make handmade gifts for some of those on your gift list.

  • Clean out your closet! Donate items that you haven’t worn in a year to Goodwill, the Salvation Army, or a local homeless shelter.

  • Avoid nonessential indoor spaces and crowded outdoor settings, such as shopping centers, restaurants, sports arenas, theaters, and even churches. If you are at higher risk, you may want to consider having a friend or neighbor run errands for you. Also, many food stores are now offering delivery to either curbside or to your home. Your well-being is worth it.

  • Practice gratefulness. Spending a few minutes at the beginning of each day thinking of several things for which you’re grateful can put you in a positive frame of mind that can last all day. In the evening, go back over your day and list 3 or more things that went well, or things that you accomplished. Remind yourself to feel good about all the good you are doing!

  • Play with the dog! Or the cat! It’s good for you, and for them, too!

  • Revive the art of letter writing and become a pen-pal.

  • Set up a regular Zoom or Google Meet meeting for your family and/or friends. Even though it may not be safe to spend time with those we love in person, we can still interact and enjoy each other remotely. We don’t have to be isolated!

  • Also note that the CDC recommends wearing a mask even inside if someone in the home is infected with COVID, or you are with someone who is vulnerable, such as an older person or one with chronic health conditions.

  • Set up a regular practice of meditation or prayer, inspirational reading, and journaling. This item fits in nicely with the gratefulness practice. It can take just a few minutes a day, or it can take an hour or more, but it’s all beneficial.

  • Use a “brain-training” app, such as Elevate to keep you on your mental toes!

  • Maintain physical distance and limit in-person contact with those outside of your household. This is important even during the holidays. This is hard, but you-re also protecting yourself and those you love.

  • Take a bubble bath. A nice, long soak in the tub, especially near the end of the day, can’t be beat, and it sets you up nicely for a great sleep. And that’s another great self-care tip; get enough sleep!

  • Quarantine if you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for the virus. The CDC recommends a full 14 days of quarantine after an exposure, along with testing on day 5 or later, especially if you develop symptoms.

  • Add your own self-care thoughts. We are all different and have different needs, so if my ideas about what constitutes good self-care don’t jibe with yours, think of some things that would work for you! BE WELL!

Below are some additional Mental Health Tips shared from the Indiana Department of Health taken from the CDC:

The COVID 19 pandemic is stressful for people. Fear and anxiety can be overwhelming and can cause feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Stress during a pandemic can cause:

  • Fear and worry about your own health and that of your loved ones, your financial situation or job, or loss of support services you rely on.

  • Changes in sleeping or eating patterns

  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating

  • Worsening of chronic health conditions

  • Worsening of mental health conditions

  • Increased use of tobacco and/or alcohol and other substances

Seek help if needed. If you or someone you care about is distressed or is unable to complete their usual activities because of worry, stress or nervousness over the course of several days or weeks, seek help from a trusted clergy member, counselor, or doctor. See the attached reference sheet for resources in case you need emergency help:

Other helpful links:

Mental Health Resources:

Get immediate help in a crisis:

  • Call 911

  • Be Well Crisis Helpline: call 211, follow prompt for mental health and select option 3

  • Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 (press 2 for Spanish), or text TalkWithUs for English or Hablanos for Spanish to 66746.

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK, 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish, or Lifeline Crisis Chat.

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522

  • National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-8804AChild (1-800-422-4453)

  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or Online Chat

  • The Eldercare Locator: 1-800-677-1116 TTY Instructions

  • Veteran’s Crisis Line:1-800-273-TALK (8255) or Crisis Chat or text: 8388255

Find a healthcare provider or treatment for substance use disorder and mental health:

  • Treatment Connection Website

  • LookUp Indiana

  • SAMHSA’s National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357) and TTY 1-800-487-4889

  • Treatment Services Locator Website

  • Interactive Map of Selected Federally Qualified Health Centers

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