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Social Distancing? Don’t Neglect Your Mental Health

How to slip the stream of panic and find the silver lining

Sex Therapy | Richmond, VA

Social Distancing? Don’t Neglect Your Mental HealthHow to slip the stream of panic and find the sil1

Panic over the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak is quickly spreading throughout the US—and Richmond is no exception. You can tell by the bare shelves of toilet paper and hand sanitizer that panic buying has spread even faster than the virus itself.


School closings, postponing elective medical procedures, travel restrictions—just about everyone in every sector is being affected by the measures to mitigate the outbreak.


And that includes mental health therapists here in Richmond, who must turn to teletherapy to maintain client services and treatment.


This is what you’ve trained for


Stress management is crucial in a time like this. Stress and fear are as infectious as any airborne virus—and also make you more susceptible to infection.


How to de-stress while social distancing:


  • Stay away from the news—it feeds on anxiety. If you need info, look it up briefly on CDC.gov or WHO.int.

  • Children ask questions—give them straightforward, factual answers. Then ask how they feel, what they’re worried about.

  • Exercise at home—keep endorphins flowing. Going for a walk or a run is okay as long as you avoid crowds.

  • Don’t over consume substances—aside from the obvious health risk, you may use up your stash and be unable to restock.

  • Catch up on sleep—it’s one of the best stress defenses.

  • Develop a meditation practice like Emily Fletcher’s Ziva technique.

  • Practice deep breathing with Dr. Andrew Weil’s 4-7-8 breathing exercise.

  • Utilize cognitive-behavioral techniques like cognitive restructuring to break out of negative thoughts

Reframe concerns like, “Will I or my family get coronavirus?” into actionable thoughts like, “My family and I are following recommended guidelines and spending quality time together. We’re healthy right now and in case that changes, we’ve made the following preparations...”


Remember: you can’t control what happens to you—only how you respond. Find power in managing your response to stressful situations.


10 suggestions to de-stress social-distancing


Even faced with unexpected events that trigger fear and panic there are positive things you can do to help yourself remain calm and stay productive.


  1. Catch up on reading

  2. Tackle neglected home-improvement projects

  3. Family game night

  4. Relationship communication and date nights

  5. Write a letter

  6. Spring cleaning

  7. Learn a new skill on YouTube

  8. Yoga and meditation

  9. Arts and music

  10. Binge a happy show


Any of these activities can be done at home and all of them engage mindfulness—which helps to alleviate stress and lower blood pressure. And don’t forget to journal your experiences! Future generations will want your story of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.


Still having trouble? Talking to a therapist (even via video) can help.


Looking for more specific strategies? Try some CBT


Richmond Sex Therapist | Valerie McDonnell, LCSW
Walking Draco

Produced with Quillpower