Noted Psychotherapist's Prescription For Dealing With Coronavirus (COVID-19) Anxiety and Stress

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Gerald Fishkin, a noted psychotherapist releases his pinpoint prescription for dealing With COVID-19 and Coronavirus induced stress and anxiety.

Dr. Gerald Fishkin, A 50+ year practicing psychotherapist in Long Beach, CA, shares his advice for how you can stay safe and sane during this pandemic. His hopes are that this information will bring us all together and help one another during troubling times.

Stop catastrophizing, awfulizing, panicking, dreading and anticipating the future in an irrational or negative way. Get present and stay present in your thinking.

2. Every day have a task, have a plan, and stop watching the media. Having a plan and looking forward to something on a daily basis gives us a sense of hope, especially when we’re not dwelling on the present that we have no control over any way. Because in reality, the only thing we have control over is our attitude. If our attitude is rational, then our feelings about our situation will be healthy, rational and hopeful as well.

3. It’s been said that humor is the universal solvent against the abrasive elements of life. This does not mean being Pollyanna to what’s going on around us, but we have to maintain a sense of rationality. This crisis will end, and when it does, I hope each of us has learned something about this gift that we call life.

4. Having current information is important, but don’t compulsively watch the news. You’re going to find that your anxiety and blood pressure will rise.

5. Prayer and having the spiritual connection is really important and especially now when our sense of hope is threatened. Prayer, like meditation, gives us connection to a higher power. Because of social distancing, people are even praying at home through the Internet. Brilliant.

6. Exercise is very important and especially when we are homebound or in self mandated quarantine. No one wants to feel helpless or be quarantined – we were raised in freedom and we expect it, so watch your anger and frustration levels. The emotions of fear and hope cannot exist at the same time, so which one do you choose? Quarantine does not have to mean that you are homebound. Get out, take a walk. Walk your dog, offered to walk your neighbor’s dog, or walk your imaginary dog. It doesn’t matter, just get out of your living space so you can get some fresh air and clear your
head.

7. Consider taking an Internet class or program, or visit cultural websites such as museums, galleries or travel websites, which can be very engaging. You might visualize and plan your next vacation-- the net effect is to get you out of your current and fearful thinking and into something fun. It doesn’t cost any more. Check out the classes offered on The Great Courses website.

8. Cell phone digital addiction is okay when you can live your regular life. In self-isolation or enforced quarantine, you don’t know what to do with yourself. This outcome was inevitable and your reactions to it show how out of balance your life is. Use this time to learn or experience something new.

9. For the many of you that are forced to work at home and whose daily life and routine have been upended, you’ll need to learn how to deal with working in isolation, which if not dealt with effectively can lead to boredom, fear, restlessness, and frustration. Mental health is a growing issue in the United States, and it’s one that can be made worse by isolation. A recent report from Cigna Health Company found that 75% of younger workers—those in the millennial or Gen Z groups — feel isolated at work. And that’s when they are in the office. Not surprisingly, the potential for loneliness, anxiety, and depression is even more significant for those who work alone at home. There’s a sense of loneliness that can be exaggerated.

That may mean someone who is usually anxious may find themselves paralyzed with fear when away from the office. Or a lonely person may dip into depression. In either case, their output could slow to a crawl.

Self-isolation can be scary if you don’t have the support network to help. So begin to develop a support network now. Also, the best functional approach for working at home is to spend 45 minutes on a task and taking a 15 minute break.

10. The social behaviors of some, fortunately not all individuals in our culture have been very disappointing and amazing at the same time. On the one hand, there are hoarders who believe they have to get as much as they can now, while depriving others of daily necessities.

Everybody needs to take a deep breath and understand there’s nothing wrong with our delivery supply chains and warehouses which are all full. Stores are being restocked daily. Remember one thing, hoarding leads to rationing, and we don’t want that at any cost.

On the other hand, I have seen strangers offering to help strangers. I have lived in my community for 39 years and I am now getting flyers on my doorstep from our young neighbors offering assistance such as food shopping, walking a dog, getting medication if necessary. I’ve never seen anything like it before and I’m so grateful for what these young neighbors are doing. By the way, I have a no-cost, low-cost solution for hand sanitation. Here it is, a spray bottle with rubbing alcohol.

© Gerald Loren Fishkin, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved.

You can contact Dr. Gerald Fishkin on his website: drgeraldfishkin.com

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