Helpful video from PRM’s Dr. Jana Scrivani

Social-distancing can be hard for some people. Watch this video of Dr. Scrivani sharing some tips for remaining calm and relieving stress during this difficult time.

A full transcript of the Managing The Stress of Social Distancing can be found below:

Hi, everybody! I’m Dr. Jani, a licensed psychologist, and I’m here to talk to you today about a very timely subject: managing stress in the age of social distancing and home quarantine.

So, if anyone out there is like me, given the area of the country that I live in, I have not really left my house since Friday, with short breaks to take walks and get some fresh air, and things like that. So, what I’d like to do is offer you some tips that you can use to manage the absolutely expected stress and anxiety that all of this is no doubt bringing up, and then how to manage it when you’re stuck in your house or your apartment.

Number one… This is my top 10 list. So, number one: limit your news exposure. I cannot stress this enough. So, if you find yourself stuck at home, and you’re just watching endless news, and constantly reading, and looking for updates, what that’s doing is ratcheting up your stress and anxiety without actually providing you with a lot of useful information. So, how I like to do this is pick one reputable news source, check it no more than one time per day. That will be enough so that you’ll get the accurate information that you need without increasing your stress levels.

Number two: give yourself a smell right now. A little sniff. When was the last time you took a shower? Create a regular routine. So, it can be really tempting to just have a free flow day, but routine and structure are things that we as human beings thrive on. So, create a routine for yourself, including showering, getting dressed, eating regular meals. Definitely will help to keep that stress in check.

Number three: try and get some fresh air at least one time per day. So, of course there are a lot of us who are either strongly suggested or perhaps even under mandate to stay in our homes. But social distancing doesn’t mean that you can’t, let’s say, take a bike ride where you don’t come within six feet of other people. Or take a socially distanced hike. Or a walk. If you happen to be lucky enough to live in New York City, folks are telling me that Central Park, everyone’s being very respectful of maintaining social distance, and is a great place to go and get some of that fresh air.

Number four: prepare to get aggravated like you have never been before at the people with whom you live. So, whether that’s your kids, your partner, your parents, friends. And you want to prepare yourself for this. The more time we spend under stressful circumstances, in close proximity with each other, the more stressful things get, and the more likely we are to have conflict with people.

So, an interesting exercise: take a moment, write down a list of five things you love about the people who you’re living with right now, and take that out when you have the urge to snap at them or respond in a way that you won’t feel proud of later. Remind yourself of why you love these people and why you care about them. Practice assertive conflict resolution.

Number five: there are lots of memes going around about “quarantinis” and other creative ways to spend your time in isolation. You really want to limit your use of alcohol and other substances right now. And there’s a great acronym to help yourself ask, “Okay, why am I having an urge to drink or use a drug right now?” And the acronym is HALT. H-A-L-T. It stands for “Am I hungry? Am I angry? Am I lonely? Am I tired?” And I’m going to add also bored. So, when you’re having an urge to take a drink, ask yourself that question. And if you are hungry, angry, lonely, tired, or bored, take steps to try and resolve that.

Okay, number six, maybe the most important one: take a moment, be kind and gentle with yourself. You are not going to be the perfect homeschooling parent. You’re not going to be the perfect partner. You’re not going to be the perfect friend, the perfect employee. Remind yourself that at any given moment you are doing the absolute best that you can, and that is all you can expect of yourself.

Number seven: social distancing does not have to mean social isolation. Humans are social creatures, and this is one of the reasons that people are struggling with this particular viral outbreak so much right now, is because all of the structures of our society that we go to as humans, right now they’ve pretty much stopped functioning. So, if you live alone, this is going to be even more important. Plan times to do FaceTime dates with people in your life. Set up online meetings, phone calls. Reach out to people you know who live by themselves and who may need extra support right now. So, you might have to find that it takes a little bit of extra effort to get that social interaction that you need, but it is so incredibly important right now.

Number eight: something that helps me, because let’s face it, I’m scared, you’re scared. I think everybody right now is feeling scared, and anxious, and worried about the future. And something that I like to do is remind myself of everything that we’ve gotten through together as a society. Whether it was a World War, or the Swine Flu epidemic, September 11th, we have witnessed, and some of us in our lifetimes, catastrophic events; and as a society, we have never failed to emerge from them and get through them. And we will get through this one too.

Number nine: it is completely normal right now to feel increased stress and anxiety. As I just mentioned, everybody is feeling it. We’re feeling it because we’re human, and we’re living through a time of unprecedented uncertainty, and that is the perfect storm for anxiety and stress. Ride those feelings like a wave. Don’t stuff them down and don’t suppress them. Allow yourself to feel. Allow yourself to experience anxiety and sadness about what’s going on. It doesn’t make you a weak or bad person. It makes you a human. No feeling is final, and no feeling is fatal. Remind yourself of that. It’s completely impossible for these feelings to last forever, but likely they will come and go like waves. And just like a surfer, we have to ride those waves of emotion until then eventually crash.

Number ten: it is more important than ever to reach out for assistance if you need it. And I’m going to post all of these resources that I’m sharing with you right now underneath this Facebook Live once it gets saved to my page.

If you live in New York and you need assistance with food, housing, rent, dial 211. That is your resource for New York City.

There is a friendship line specifically created for older adults who might be feeling particularly socially isolated right now, and that number is 1-800-971-0016.

The National Crisis Hotline: 1-800-273-8255.

The National Crisis Text Line: so text “Home”, that’s H-O-M-E, to 741-741 to initiate a chat with a crisis counselor.

And finally, the National Domestic Violence Hotline. They provide services to people in 200 different languages. They’re open 24/7, and can be reached at 1-800-799-7233.

If you’re already receiving psychotherapy or psychiatric care, check in with your providers. A lot of providers are offering video sessions right now. I’ve been offering video sessions for years, and so have many practitioners, and a lot of practitioners are starting to offer them now so that you can continue receiving therapy during this time of increased stress.

If you’re currently under psychiatric care, now is a good time to call your psychiatrist and make a plan to make sure that you don’t run out of your psychiatric medications.

So, all of those things are some proactive things that you can do now. And if you do not have a therapist and you’re looking for one, tons of therapists across the country are currently offering video sessions to folks in need. So, reach out for help if you need it. There are a couple of organizations that can help you find a therapist, and I will also post those at the bottom of this Facebook Live once it gets posted to my professional page.

Thank you for coming and listening. Stay safe out there, take good care of yourself, take good care of each other, and I’ll probably be back with more Facebook Lives soon. If there’s any topic that you’re interested in hearing me speak about, just leave a comment on this Facebook Live, and I’ll do my best.

All right, everybody, take care.