INDIANA – A lot of people are stuck at home because of the coronavirus. You may no longer be able to go to your job, hang out with friends, or, if you have kids, send them to school.
This may make you feel anxious or stressed, especially if you’re on social media or surrounded by others in your home.
“As humans, we can feed off of one another’s anxiety,” said Dr. Rachel Feldwisch, Director of Counseling Programs at the University of Indianapolis. “So, if we’re going on social media and we’re seeing a variety of posts — some of which may be fact-based, some of them may be interpretations or misinterpretations of information — that can really increase our anxiety.”
Feldwisch says there are two things that may help: that you remain connected to other people and that you engage in self-care.
She says remaining connected might be checking up on your friends and family through Facetime, call or text, especially if you know they have anxiety, depression or an existing health condition.
Self-care can be anything from playing a game with your family, creating art, or even going outside for a walk.
However, she says that just as isolating yourself may be hard, so can togetherness if you’re always in your house with other people.
If you’re stuck inside with your roommate or family, Feldwisch advises to create space and set boundaries.
“For kids what that could look like is, maybe they’re building forts, and they have separate rooms of the forts that they’re occupying,” she said for parents it could be a little different. “You might need a break from your children.”
She says that it’s okay to need that break. She says to tell them you need to take a short bath, or go for a short walk.
“Right when you feel that frustration building, find a way to communicate to that family member or loved one at that time.”
To communicate the need for that alone time she says to use ‘I’ statements instead of ‘you’ statements, so you don’t unintentionally make that person feel defensive.
The need to take a break may also apply to social media.
“When you’re engaging in social media use it’s important to reflect upon how it’s impacting you emotionally.”
Pay attention to your gut reaction, and if you see someone posting something that’s bothering you, it’s okay to unfollow them for a little bit.
Feldwisch says one thing she does to help herself is showcase her art and self-care tips in her Facebook group, the Indiana Art Therapy Association. She said she’s found it nurturing and helpful to engage with people within that group through social media.
“It’s not all bad. You just have to figure out for yourself what’s really helpful, in terms of social media, and what is really unhelpful.”