Tips for Coping During the COVID-19 Crisis

Beverly Hills Courier columnist Dr. Eva Ritvo is a psychiatrist with more than 25 years’ experience practicing in Miami Beach. She is the author of “Bekindr-The Transformative Power of Kindness” and the founder of the Bekindr Global Initiative, a movement to bring more kindness in the world. Dr. Ritvo received her undergraduate and medical degrees from UCLA, and psychiatry residency training at Weill Cornell Medicine. 

Anxiety is rampant and we must all do our best to cope during this challenging time. Here are a few tips that I hope will help you cope. 

Stay inside if you can. Our anxiety is a warning system and right now we need it to keep us safe. Heed the warning. 

Make sure you are getting enough rest. Sleep is the base of the wellness pyramid. Some find it helpful to stick to a routine. Others are worn out from the worry and need more time in bed. 

Eat fruits and vegetables in a balanced fashion. Avoid empty calories. Talk to your doctor about vitamins or other supplements. Stay properly hydrated. 

Eliminate or keep alcohol to a minimum. 

Make sure you are getting enough information to stay safe and follow the advice 

of experts. Then turn off the news. Same advice for financial worries. 

Although for most of us, we can’t work out the way we used to, we must find safe alternatives. Use YouTube and Instagram to help you find ways of staying fit in your own home. Ask friends for tips and consider sharing work out time with friends via Zoom or FaceTime. 

Reach out to friends, family and your community. Use this time to tell people how important they are to you. Companies are setting up Zoom meetings and people are connecting in creative ways. 

It is necessary to let our feelings out alone or with a friend, family member or professional. A wide variety of emotions are coming up and they shift throughout the day. Many therapists are available for online consultation. Limit the number of people you interact with that will distress you. 

Be kinder than ever. Help a neighbor, friend or local organization but maintain everyone’s safety as a top priority. Donate to an organization. Use Charity Navigator to guide you or consider Global Giving and Relief International. When we help others, we also help ourselves. 

Meditate. You can begin very simply with an app called Headspace or Calm. You can Google “Five Minute Meditation” on YouTube or any length you desire. 

Humans are designed to connect via touch so being apart is unnatural. We secrete oxytocin when we touch and it promotes our health. You can release your own oxytocin by wrapping yourself in a warm blanket, bath or shower. Hugging a pet has the same effect. 

We can counteract our distress over our loss of control by straightening up what we can. Completing tasks gives your brain a boost of dopamine so even simple tasks can give us a quick boost. It is a great time to clean and organize your home. You may find your concentration is decreased so be realistic in your expectations of yourself. 

Create new routines. For example, exercise at the same time each day. Try to be productive during certain hours and relax at other times. Eat at similar times each day. We must strive for a “new normal” as we spend our days at home. 

Engage in positive activities. Read a book. Listen to soft music. Dim the lights. Watch the sunset or be in nature if you can do so safely. Watch a TedTalk. Brush up on a foreign language. Take a deep breath. Journal. Puzzles, games, cooking, magazines, and humor all provide much needed respite from the stress. 

Avoid big decisions right now. Your thinking might not be the clearest due to the excess cortisol. 

Try to stay away from conflicting with others. We need one another now more than ever. If you lose your cool, forgive yourself and make amends. 

Think about and express gratitude. In these challenging times, we most focus on what we are grateful for. Express gratitude to those around you as it will lift their mood as well. 

Right now it seems that these times will never pass, but they will. We are a remarkably strong and resilient community. We must support each and every one of us and we will find a path out of this darkness. Keep hopeful and enjoy the small blessing within each day. Try to laugh, enjoy your food and connect with those you love for in the end, that is clearly what matters most. 


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