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Ask The Expert: How Can I Deal with Anxiety During Social Distancing?

April 17, 2020

Steve Sarner, M.D., is Chairman, Department of Psychiatry at Atlantic Health System’s Newton Medical Center.

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During this challenging time of social distancing, working in different ways and having kids home for schooling is a perfect formula for raising our collective anxiety. There is no was around it, this is a hard time for all of us. So, what can we do? Where do we turn for support and guidance? 

There are some very reliable resources and you want to be sure to listen to the experts on the CDC website, the World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health. 

But what if you need help just getting through the days and all this uncertainty? 

Here are some important steps to take:

  • Movement will help you. When we get anxious, we can sometimes start to feel paralyzed. There can be some much uncertainty that we feel we cannot even move. So, the best thing to do is get moving. Go for a walk, put music on and dance with your loved ones or by yourself! Get online and join a free gentle yoga class. As the weather is getting nicer you can get outside more and use your good social distancing and MOVE. This will help your anxiety go down.
  • Turn off social media and TV! These are amazing resources and we all need them. But too much of a good thing is going to increase your anxiety. Make sure you limit the amount of time you and you kids are online or have the news on. Watch a funny movie together or listen to an interesting podcast. There are museums that are live streaming tours through some of the world’s best museums such as The Smithsonian. This could be a great respite from the news!
  • Practice the basics. This means eating well, drinking enough water, getting regular sleep and exercise. It also means checking in with what is most important to you. Reaching out by phone or facetime to love ones, and friends. Maybe schedule a zoom party! Find some online guided meditations or church services or AA meetings. 

We all will need to take steps to dial down our anxiety during this difficult time. And most importantly we need to tap into our natural resilience and know that we will get through this together.