10 Expert Tips to Staying Resilient During the Corona Crisis – IBD Medical

10 Expert Tips to Staying Resilient During the Corona Crisis

by Israel 21C on April 09, 2020

“If you watch the news and see the empty streets, it looks like doomsday. But we have to bear in mind that we are not all going to die.”

So says Dr. Zahi Ben-Zion, chief psychiatrist for the southern district of Israel and chief of sexual health medicine at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva.

“Most people won’t be very ill from this disease and things will get back [to normal],” Ben-Zion reassured participants in a mental-health webinar sponsored by American Friends of Soroka.

But until that time comes – may it be soon! – the coronavirus pandemic has many of us feeling scared, stressed and lonely.

After years of war and trauma, Israeli mental-health professionals are renowned worldwide for their expertise in teaching people how to be resilient through thick and thin.

ISRAEL21c gathered practical tips from three experts to help you and your loved ones maintain emotional health during this difficult time.

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TIP #1: Caution, not fear

“This is a time to discriminate between being cautious and being fearful. We need to be cautious but not fearful,” says Ben-Zion.

Caution means following government directives about staying home, protecting yourself when you do need to go out, and washing hands often with soap and warm water.

Fear means panic-buying ridiculous quantities of toilet roll, being glued to the news obsessively, and other doomsday behaviors that only make you – and those around you — more fretful.

“I tell my patients to write down their worries and then throw them in the trash,” says Ben-Zion.

Tip #2: Let go and accept the new normal

“You think you are who you are because you do X or Y — and now you can’t do it anymore,” says clinical social worker Talia Levanon, director of the Israel Trauma Coalition.

“Think of things you are willing to let go of every day, things you can give up, and accept this as the new normal for however long this situation lasts.”

Levanon gives a personal example: “I find myself on Zoom and phone calls for so many hours these days that I can’t call many of the people I normally would. I just have to accept that.”

Another example is changing rules to suit the situation.

“If you usually limit your kids to 20 minutes of screen time, you shouldn’t feel guilty to allow them more time and explain that this is the new rule for now,” says Levanon.

Tip #3: Maintain routine

“When everything we know doesn’t seem relevant and we feel paralyzed, we must make sure to create continuity in most of our roles in life,” says Levanon. “It is important now to continue a routine or create a new routine.”

Eat at normal times, go to bed at normal times and get up at normal times even though life isn’t normal. If you have children at home, create and enforce a schedule of educational and recreational activities appropriate for each child.

“When everything changes, we want to keep some things constant, especially when we don’t have control over the situation,” said clinical psychologist Eli Somer, professor emeritus of psychology at University of Haifa’s School of Social Work, during an online briefing hosted by the American Society of the University of Haifa.

Tip #4: Practice gratitude

“Remind yourself every day of three things to be thankful for,” recommends Ben-Zion.

This is a great exercise to do with family members of all ages at the end of each day.

Somer says an attitude of gratitude will help assure that you will come out of this pandemic with a deeper appreciation for life.

Tip #5: Reframe your situation

“We have a choice whether to label ourselves as victims of the situation or to reframe it as a place where we have no control but within which we can make a lot of choices,” says Levanon.

“Instead of thinking, ‘It’s so terrible, I’m home with the kids and we’re climbing the walls,’ instead I can think, ‘This is an opportunity for strengthening the kids, for teaching them to do household chores and giving them responsibilities, even if it’s just choosing the game to play today.’ I can reframe it from a tragedy and use words of coping.”

When you are proactive, she says, you are less of a victim of circumstances.

Tip #6: Stay connected

Children may be disappointed that they can’t be with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins for the Passover Seder or other family occasions. But there are effective ways to retain a sense of family.

Levanon suggests having children write letters or holiday greeting cards to their relatives. Engage children in Zoom meetings or video calls with loved ones to create a feeling of family togetherness. You may want to choose a different friend or relative to call each day of the week.

Tip #7: Speak and listen with care

“Children take cues from their parents. So, I would advise parents that their kids react to what they say [about the corona crisis] and how they say it,” says Somer.

Listening is no less important than choosing the right words to say.

“Parents should make themselves available to listen and answer any questions their children may have,” says Somer.

He urges everyone to listen for signs of emotional distress in people we’re close with, particularly if they are elderly, migrants, unemployed, victims of domestic violence or individuals with a history of anxiety, PTSD or depression. If professional guidance seems warranted, help them get it.

“If someone you know is struggling, let them talk to you and just listen,” says Ben-Zion.

He urges everyone to listen for signs of emotional distress in people we’re close with, particularly if they are elderly, migrants, unemployed, victims of domestic violence or individuals with a history of anxiety, PTSD or depression. If professional guidance seems warranted, help them get it.

“If someone you know is struggling, let them talk to you and just listen,” says Ben-Zion.

Tip #8: Tap into your inner resources

“During this challenging time, people can realize their own capacities — their ability to withstand and prevail,” says Somer.

“The pandemic gives us an opportunity to reassess what’s important to us and appreciate the smaller things in life. Some of us may discover spirituality, the value of family, intimacy with their partner and the value of pausing to reflect.”

Ben-Zion adds, “Look back on problems that you had that you thought were unbearable and how you got out of them.”

Tip #9: Keep the flame burning

Your sex life may lose its sizzle when you and your partner are stuck at home stressed out about your finances, your children, your elderly parents, your health, and the general state of the world.

“It’s not a time to try new positions from the Kama Sutra,” Ben-Zion advises.

“If you want to make love, it’s a good and positive thing but not everyone is into that right now. Make an appointment to discuss with one another what you want and need. Your partner cannot read your mind.”

Touching, back rubs, caressing, hugging and kissing are all important aspects of an intimate relationship, he points out.

To get yourself and your partner in the mood, Ben-Zion says, you’ve got to get out of pajamas, shower, dress nicely, and keep yourself groomed– even if you have nowhere to go.

Above all, “Be patient and kind to each other. Don’t bring up topics that make you quarrel.”

Tip #10: Learn new things but don’t make big changes

Being grounded at home presents excellent opportunities for learning new skills or trying new hobbies – anything from knitting to qi gong.

However, cautions Ben-Zion, “This is not a time to go on a diet, to divorce or to marry. It’s a time to learn things you can do yourself, such as cooking.”

Because it is normal to feel tense during this pandemic, Ben-Zion recommends self-care activities such as meditating and exercising.

 

By Abigail Klein Leichman

 

IBD Medical was born in Sydney Australia. Our mission is to help improve the lives of people living with diabetes by providing the best possible support products and information. 
Remember to always seek advice from your medical practitioner before changing anything about your diabetes management. The above information is not medical advice.  
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