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April 23, 2020

How to Keep from Losing it in Lockdown?

Carol Potter

Lili asked a family therapist in Los Angeles for advice on how to navigate these times from an emotional, psychological and spiritual perspective.

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As a freelancer, you work at home and deal with uncertainty every day, but a world tipped of its foundation can take you exponential! Here are some tip and reminders to help get you through:


Breathe.

Long slow deep breaths.  Be where you are.  Notice colors, sounds, body sensations. Check your feelings.  Are you mad, sad, glad or afraid? Disconnect the feelings from the stories in your head; just sit with them.  And breathe. Stay in the present. 


Keep a regular routine.
 

Get up at the same time.  Get dressed.  Make your bed. Exercise!  It’s the best thing you can do to be healthy, physically and mentally.  Eat a healthy diet.  Yes, we are all indulging our favorite comfort foods, but make that the exception, not the habit. And get a good night’s sleep.  


Turn off the News.

What do you need to know? How much can you read, watch or listen before it starts affecting you?  Instead of obsessing over the news about the virus (I do the same thing!), look for Good News.  Mr. Rogers said, “Look for the helpers.”  There are amazing stories of altruism, generosity and quiet heroism out there.  Find them.


Do one thing for work every day.

There is so much you can’t control, but make a practice of doing something to advance your career every day.  It could be networking, looking up job postings, figuring out a new income stream or improving your skills. Do what you can; let go of the rest.


Be kind.
 

Remember everyone is tense, even those you live with.  Really listen and share your feelings without blame. Are you Hungry-Angry-Lonely-or-Tired? You are more likely to lose it! Children may be especially clingy.  This is an opportunity for family time.  Make it a priority to share activities.  And build in separate time also.


Try something new.
 

Learn to draw.  Study a language.  The internet is brimming with how-to’s and online learning opportunities.  Try something you have never tried before. If you don’t yet have a meditation or mindfulness practice, this is the perfect time to start. Volunteer somewhere.  It is the surest cure for feeling helpless and out of control. Be a helper.


Get off your computer.
 

I know, we do everything on our computer now!  All the more reason to take a break, and be in actual reality. Be with the people you live with. If you live alone, create a favorite spot where you can rest and be present.  Don’t use screens too close to bedtime.  Blue screens can disrupt your melatonin levels and interfere with sleep.


Learn to live at a slower pace.

You have to anyway, so you might as well enjoy it!  Breathe.  Do only one thing at a time and give it your full attention.  Notice the small things.  Even doing dishes is a pleasant experience if you take the time to feel the warm water and soap on your hands.


Practice gratitude.

What are you thankful for?  Start with meals.  Think about the people, the animals, the sunshine, rain and earth that all contributed so you could have food on your table.  At the end of the day make a short list of what you are grateful for.  It can be as simple as a nice moment or making it through another day.  You will sleep better.


Laugh every day.
 

Share jokes, funny TV shows, internet memes.  Laugh until your belly hurts.  It resets the two hemispheres of your brain, evens things out, so the whole brain is activated.  And it feels great!


Get help.
 

If you are struggling with your feelings, having difficulty functioning, or have serious thoughts about harming yourself or someone else, please seek professional help right away.  Many counseling centers are now offering services online.  Look for low cost, sliding scale centers in your area. Hotlines will give you the support you need in a crisis.  Everyone needs help sometimes.  Please take care of yourself.

 

 
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Written by

Carol Potter

Carol Potter is a Marriage and Family Therapist licensed in California. She is co-authoring a book with Dr. Frank Sileo, Ph.D. called When a Child Has a Chronic Medical Illness: A Guide for the Parenting Journey, to be published in January 2021 by the APA. And yes, she played Mama Walsh on Beverly Hills 90210. Follow her on Instagram @carolpotter90210

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