A message from Dr. Cara Wheeler, Psychologist at The Corvallis Clinic
When I first heard about the concept of social distancing, I met this with great caution due to the mental health risk involved. Now that I understand the imperative nature of social distancing, we need to talk about how to stay mentally resilient and engaged as we continue into uncharted waters.
For those who struggle with depression, it is necessary for you to protect yourself. I would suggest that you make yourself some type of daily calendar, schedule, and goal list. Depending on where you are in your symptoms, you can create your goals to ensure that you tackle challenges within your reach. For example, a daily goal may be to shower, call one friend, and go outside for 30 minutes each day. Another person may require more demanding goals: exercise for 30 minutes, spend time outside, cook a meal, call a friend, and make a gratitude list. The most important factors include a schedule, exercise, and getting outdoors.
For those with anxiety, you may consider a few thoughts. First, we have often told people with anxiety to approach, not avoid, things that are frightening to you. Unless, of course, it means “life or limb.” Now, we face one of those “life or limb” situations. My encouragement to you is to not allow your anxiety to generalize this experience. As a community, we are working to make wise, not fear-based decisions. Don’t allow your anxiety to have a heyday. Make sound judgments and follow leadership, but don’t let fear consume you. Instead, spend this time learning something new. Maybe learn the guitar, learn Spanish, or try baking something new. Spend time on self-care and revisit a hobby you put down.
For those of you that are at home with people who they don’t really like. Yes, sorry to say, but not everyone likes the people they live with. Now, what do you do? You take breaks from each other by investing your time into separate endeavors. You use your words and let others know when you need space, you call a friend, and you spend time outside away from everyone. You seek to find activities that everyone can enjoy together despite differences: movies, meals, etc. You can take it one step further and start searching for meaning in the midst of your daily struggle. How can you make this time count for something? How can you take the time needed to do some good work for yourself?
What if you use this time for a mental health retreat? My suggestion would be to look online and find a workbook to go through. I am listing a few recommendations below. Dive in and find something that speaks to you. Let’s change our view from restriction to restoration.
Recommended Books and Workbooks
‘Present, Not Perfect’ by Aimee Chase
‘The Dialectical Behavior Therapy’ by Matthew McKay, Jeffrey Brantley and Jeffrey Wood
‘Mind Over Mood 2nd’ by Dennis Greenberger
‘Feeling Good’ by David Burns