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Shelter-in-Place Coping Strategies

Dear students and alumni,

We are in unprecedented times, not with the emergence of a novel pathogen, but in the global response and public health intervention for COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2). Even with the inundation of regular news coverage, the mental health impact is so often overlooked as secondary to the physical impact of an outbreak, but I honestly think it's so important.

There have been many great resources about best practices regarding shelter in place. Here are a few highlights that we would like to share*:

1) Set yourself up with a loose, forgiving schedule. Structure is good, it centers the mind; rigidity is not.

2) It helps to wake up and go to bed at normal times.

3) Try to get some movement every single day. Even just stretching is good. Lots of YouTube videos are free too.

4) Social connection is key - Zoom is free, as is FaceTime or Google Hangouts or WhatsApp video chat!

Schedule yourself to check in with someone daily (not necessarily the same person each day).

Checking in on others will also make you feel better.

5) Philanthropy can also feel good - Maybe clean out pantry or closet or home for donation when all this is over.

6) Set yourself up with work goals daily, doable goals. Use this time to be productive - catch up on those things you've been putting off, tackle small projects, make plans for a future event, etc. If you feel that you're getting things accomplished, you'll have a more positive outlook.

7) Make time to do things you enjoy, especially creative projects that allow your mind to relax. Is it drawing, or music, or dancing, or tinkering, etc.?

8) Guided meditation can be a natural anxiety buster; so can yoga/stretching if meditation is difficult.

9) If you can, try to get some fresh air every day. Are there any big parks or preserves nearby where you can walk and get away from others? Can you walk around the neighborhood early in the morning or late at night while avoiding others?

10) Talk therapy can be very helpful right now if that's a possibility. There are many sources for finding an online therapist that doesn't involve leaving your home.

11) Use social media in a positive way - can you join a group for a hobby you enjoy that will take your mind off of the daily deluge of news? Instagram might be more mentally peaceful than Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn right now.

12) Limit your news to a couple of times a day like morning or midday. Try not to get on at night before bed. If you can limit to once a day, try to get a couple of productive hours in in the morning before checking the news. Lengthen the time between waking up and checking the news each day by 15 min. You might find yourself much more productive this way.

13) Keep a notebook by your bed and if you're anxious, write down what you're anxious about or doodle or journal about the day, if your mind is racing at night.

14) If sleep is difficult, a warm shower or bath before bed can trigger sleepiness, or a warm milk with some honey or herbal tea.

15) Remember that we're all in this together. Reach out and find that human connection. Here in the department, we would be happy to connect with you if you reach out. You're part of the Benedictine family and will be always.

Other Resources Available

A) An official resource from the CDC: Managing Anxiety and Stress

B) National Institute of Mental Health resource: Coping With Coronavirus: Managing Stress, Fear, and Anxiety

C) Lancet article about mental health during COVID-19: Timely mental health care for the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak is urgently needed

*This list was composed by
W. Susan Cheng, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Department Chair, Associate Professor
Department of Public Health, College of Education and Health Services

Office of Alumni Relations

Jon-Pierre Bradley, Ed.D.
Director of Alumni Relations
Phone: (630) 829-6077
E-mail: jbradley@ben.edu