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Practical Tips for Positively Responding to Covid-19

Practical Tips for Positively Responding to Covid-19
by Chris Garcia, Lawyers Assistance Chair

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

--Victor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning

 

I received three emails this morning from clients begging me to get them out on house arrest. Whether currently in jail or a halfway house, their only desire is to be stuck at home.

Our circumstances may feel crazy, but things could be way worse. Everything is relative.

Still, we feel powerless and helpless in the face of possible illness for ourselves or people we love, the loss or slowing down of our livelihoods, the inability to help our clients in the way in which we are accustomed. Then there are the feelings of anxiety and guilt we experience for being annoyed by living in close quarters with the family members we love.

Below are some practical tips for your body, mind, and spirit that should aid in allowing you to settle in and respond more positively to your current circumstances.

Work on your Body

Sleep—Get more of it, at least eight hours a night. If you think that you are different, and require less sleep to function properly, then you are wrong. If you need convincing, read Why We Sleep, by Matthew Walker. It will change your attitude and beliefs regarding sleep.

Stop consuming caffeine after noon.

Download the free Sleep Cycle App to your phone and start tracking your sleep.

Sleep enhances your immune system. It is necessary for your mental and physical health. It is free. Anyone that criticizes you for sleeping too much, including yourself, should be ignored.

Light—Get a therapy light and sit in front of it for 5-30 minutes every morning. It shines at an angle into the top of your eyes, mimicking the sun. I don't know how it works, but it sure helps with my mood and sleep.

The Carex Day-Light Classic Bright Light Therapy Lamp, can sit above your laptop, and costs around $100 on Amazon. It is the best bang for your buck mood-enhancer I have found.

You do not have to have seasonal depression to benefit from extra light, especially if you're not leaving your home as much.

Yoga—Do it every morning in your living room in front of your TV or laptop. Yoga with Adriene on YouTube has hundreds of free 20-40 minute routines comprised of simple movement and breathing. There is no good argument against moving or breathing.

“I'm not flexible” is not a good argument. Flexibility may result from regular yoga practice, but flexibility is not the goal.

Exercise—Start small. Every time you switch tasks, do 5-10 push-ups and squats. Work up to 5-10 sets a day. Challenge your family to do the same. Work up to 15-30 minutes of physical exertion a day.

This isn't about getting in shape. It's about enhancing your ability to function.

Work on your Mind

Meditate—Meditation reminds you to stay in the present. Start small—5 minutes of observing your breath is enough.

Download the free Insight Timer App, which has hundreds of guided meditations arranged by topic, including many that will help you sleep.

We are in the midst of an era of conscious mindfulness. Mindfulness is just the concentration of your attention—whether it is on washing your hands or avoiding touching your face.

Don't judge yourself when your thoughts or attention inevitably wander. Just notice, notice yourself noticing, and bring your attention back to your breathing.

Read—I like to oscillate between a novel and non-fiction--for me right now, it is A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles, and Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, by David J. Epstein.

If it is difficult for you to sit still and concentrate, listen to books on Audible.

In the self-help realm, I highly recommend The Untethered Soul, by Matthew Alan Singer, and The Happiness Trap, by Russ Harris. Both books teach you about the merits of having a healthy relationship with your thoughts.

Harris gives a pragmatic overview of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), explaining how to defuse the negative power and seriousness of your thoughts with simple techniques like starting each thought with the phrase “I'm having the thought that...”, then singing the thought in your head. e.g. Notice that feeling of inadequacy, the thought that “I'm not doing enough”; transform it into “I'm having the thought that I'm not doing enough”; notice how that observation defuses the power of the thought; sing the thought to the tune of the Monkees' “I'm a Believer”, or Billie Eilish's “Bad Guy”. Just try it.

Work on your Spirit

Gratitude Journal--At the end of each day, write down three things that you are grateful for. If you are having trouble thinking of anything, recognize and appreciate the basics. e.g. I have a roof over my head. I am warm enough. I have a can of beans in the cupboard.

Research supports the multiple benefits of gratitude to health and well-being.

I am choosing to see our current situation as neither good nor bad. I am observing others awakening from the slumber of habitual and automatic “living” to display thoughtfulness and kindness. I am watching the helpers, including our first responders, aiding those who are in need and afraid. I am inspired by and grateful for my fellow humans.

We are all in this together, or at least separately in this together. Call or text someone you know, and ask them how they are doing. Prod them further if they say “fine”. Really listen to them.

Likewise, please reach out and ask others for help. Don't be selfish about asking by thinking yourself a burden. Your law partner or uncle may need a break from being inside their own heads. They may need to help someone else. Who are you to deprive them of that opportunity?

Our Lawyers Assistance Committee members are here to help as well. There is a list of our members in the Bar-O-Meter with contact information. Call or text me at 316-202-8218, email me at Chris@DrugCourtAttorney.com. Whether you are struggling, or just want to share tips about what is working for you, I would like to hear from you.

How are you doing? I would really like to know.

 

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