Posted March 20, 2020

Keep on keeping on

Tuttleman Counseling Center’s Brandon LaBarge offers some tips for adjusting to current changes.

Hooter meditating

During these times of anxiety and uncertainty, Nutshell reached out to Brandon LaBarge, assistant coordinator in the Resiliency Resource Center at Tuttleman Counseling Services, for some guidance to keep our mental health on track.

“Times like what we are dealing with right now are often accompanied by stress, anxiety, worry, fear, grief, sadness, confusion and depression,” said LaBarge, who also noted that “keeping on” comes with its own set of challenges.

In order to slow the spread of COVID-19, it’s important to continue to follow recommended local, state and national health guidelines for self-monitoring, social distancing and when to seek treatment. 

And in the meantime, LaBarge shared with us a few tips to keep in mind “while we keep on keeping on:” 

Physical isolation doesn’t have to mean social isolation. Stay connected to family members, friends and important relationships. 

You can also use this time to reach out to those you have felt distant from, check in with someone you are worried about, or engage in a new communication routine with someone you hadn’t previously “had the time for.”

Just breathe. By taking a few deep breaths, we can begin to improve the physiological stress in our bodies. 

There are many things we do not have control over, including the past and the future. Breathing is something we can bring focus to. Sure, taking a deep breath doesn’t solve any of these problems and concerns, but it helps the body better respond to and handle stress. 

Practice self-regulation and moderation. Be intentional about what you put your energy into.

We all have our vices and bad habits, but we also possess the ability to self-regulate. Be mindful of how much time you spend following social media, eating out of boredom, binge-watching TV or being sedentary. Set timers for tasks, get creative with new to-do lists and stick to your daily routine as much as you can.

Try not to stay too down, too long. Find time to express gratitude more often each day. Notice the silver linings, look for the good in humanity around you, or stop to smell the roses, so to speak.

You might have heard, “just think something positive.” Researchers of positive psychology understand, however, that the “negative” in our lives is very powerful, and it’s not that easy to get rid of. They say you must consider three positive things to outweigh every one that is negative.  

Mindfulness should be the buzzword you practice now. Pausing for a few minutes each day has been proven to reduce stress. 

The more we think, the more stress our bodies and minds experience, naturally. Use this time to engage with a mindfulness practice. Free resources from apps like Calm and Headspace are available to help you manage anxiety levels, train your mind and find calm regardless of your experience with meditation or mindfulness.

Resiliency involves self-awareness of strengths. We need to be able to respond with our strengths when facing obstacles. 

Some of us struggle to see our strengths at times, but they are definitely present, always. This may be a good time to explore your strengths further. The VIA Institute on Character offers a free assessment offers a free assessment that can help you begin to draw on the 24 universally defined strengths. You may begin to spot ways you are already tapping into strengths such as creativity, teamwork, self-regulation, gratitude, hope and, of course, perseverance.

Learn more from the CDC about COVID-19 and coping with stress.