One of my best experiences during quarantine involved meeting on Zoom last week with seven fabulous women from the faboverfifty community – and an exceptional therapist – to discuss how to manage our emotions during this bleak time. We came from across the country, including Carol in Massachusetts, Barbara in Washington, DC, Hope in Arizona and Sheila in Dallas. One of us is grieving over the recent loss of her sister. Another is alone, with health issues. A third woman misses the constant stimulation she had at work interacting with others. We’re all worried what the future will bring. Calming and reassuring therapist Rinat Kass lives in Northern California. She’s a member of Advekit, an online network of highly credentialed therapists across the country.
Rinat seamlessly guided the free-flowing conversation so we never talked over one another. And, she interjected her expert advice throughout the hour-long session. This was created to be an online support group for women who wished to share their challenges and experiences during the pandemic with other women in similar situations. We felt comfortable with one another. We liked one another and we wanted to share our emails. Feedback was gratifyingly positive.
“Thanks for organizing today’s conversation with Rinat and the other women. Although brief, it was very meaningful and cathartic for me. Rinat did a great job facilitating the discussion,” Carol wrote.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the session this afternoon and appreciated the opportunity to engage with such thoughtful-minded women. It was especially supportive to hear of others who also find these times later in life to be challenging,” Barbara said.
Rinat thoughtfully followed up by sending each of us two documents filled with important advice that any woman would appreciate. I’ve made some minor edits and share her important tips here.
MANAGING RELATIONSHIPS DURING QUARANTINE
⭆ BE AWARE OF HOW STRESS IMPACTS YOUR BEHAVIOR
We have fewer emotional responses during a stressful time and tend to me more sensitive, have less patience and are less flexible. It’s important to recognize all this, remind yourself that everyone is under tremendous stress, and to be kind to yourself and those around you.
⭆ RESPECT EACH OTHER’S COPING STYLES, BUT ALSO COMMUNICATE YOUR NEEDS
Each of us reacts differently to stressful events and has a different way of managing our feelings. If you feel you aren’t getting the emotional support you need, share it with your loved ones in an emotional and vulnerable way rather than with anger and resentment.
⭆ MAKE SURE YOU PUT ALONE TIME ON YOUR AGENDA
This isn’t about getting away from each other, but rather taking time every day to invest in yourself. Have some quiet time, go for a walk, listen to music or any other activity that puts you in a positive mental space.
⭆ PRACTICE SELF CARE EVERY DAY
Taking care of yourself isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity! Healthy diet, exercise, quieting your mind, and a good night’s sleep are crucial for mental health. When you give to yourself you have more to give others.
⭆ BE CREATIVE AND KEEP ROMANCE ALIVE
Invest in your relationship as well as in yourself. Dress up nicely every now and then and have a date night. A candlelight dinner, a game night, look through photo albums and being nostalgic can all help nourish your relationship.
⭆ TRY TO SEE THE SILVER LINING
This will end at some point. It may not always be easy, but try to look at all the gifts you’re getting from this uninterrupted time with your loved ones.
10 WAYS TO HELP ACHIEVE BALANCE & MEANING DURING QUARANTINE
⭆ ESTABLISH ROUTINES
Routines and rituals are vital in times of uncertainty because they create reassurance. Maybe start a journal where you can express your emotions. Or take an evening walk for some fresh air to clear your mind.
⭆ FIND SOCIAL SUPPORT
The support of others is a major component of maintaining solid mental health, especially during a crisis.
⭆ GO ON AN INFORMATION DIET
Create healthy boundaries and limitations around information and news intake. Consider the least stressful time of day to listen to the news and decide how long to spend.
⭆ HUMOR YOURSELF AND OTHERS
Laughing and comedy are vitally important during times of despair. Find it and give it!
⭆ QUIET YOUR MIND THROUGH MEDITATION
Many online apps and YouTube videos offer a variety of meditation techniques. Try them out to find one that suits you.
⭆ EXERCISE AND EAT RIGHT
You don’t need a gym to stay active. Follow exercise videos, participate in live online classes, walk outside (wearing a mask). Experiment with new exercises and new recipes every day.
⭆ GET INSPIRED, SEEK FAITH AND EXPRESS GRATITUDE
COVID-19 has fostered countless inspiring acts. Notice what happens when you hear and see members of a symphony orchestra, for example, performing “together” over Zoom.
And faith, an instrumental part of many of our lives, cannot be overemphasized for helping us move through crisis.
Lastly, creating a list of the things for which you’re grateful inherently changes the moment.
⭆ DO SOMETHING NICE FOR SOMEONE EVERY DAY
Thinking outside of oneself is a great pick-me-up tool.
⭆ CONSIDER CREATIVITY
Other than the rewarding task of cleaning your bedroom closet, think of something you’ve always wanted to try but didn’t have the time, whether it’s writing or painting, baking or gardening.
⭆ SEEK MEANING
Slowing down and reflecting can teach us something about this shocking experience. This may be a luxury for people struggling with more immediate concerns, but it’s a potential opportunity of immense value. Try to find meaning in our changing lives that are being challenged in new ways.