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Social Distancing and Self-Care in the Time of Corona

Tips for surviving a quarantine from
a certified sex therapist

BY RACHEL KLECHEVSKY

The world has dramatically changed now that Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a global pandemic. There have been government-sanctioned quarantines with some leaders asking their constituents to self-isolate. We are being told not to touch our faces. We have become afraid of handshakes. In short, it’s a lot. 

 

So how can we care for ourselves in this very frightening time?

 

These six self-care tips can help you stay calm and relieve tension amid social distancing and quarantines.

 

  1. Set boundaries with what and how much media you consume.
    This is good practice given the state of the media today. With a relentless 24-hour news cycle notifying us of infection rates, projections, and grim prognoses, it can feel overwhelming fast. Remember to look for the good stories, like Katie Porter’s confrontation with CDC Chief Dr. Robert R. Redfield, who agreed to have all Corona-related tests covered despite lack of insurance. Also, the Coronavirus memes have been amazing! Let yourself laugh in the face of fear. We need it.
     

  2. You’re allowed to opt-out of overwhelming discussions.
    If you have some alarmist friends, you can be there for them without internalizing their panic. Your mental health is your priority. Accordingly, you do not have to provide space for another person’s freak outs.
     

  3. Try to respond to the fears of others with understanding and respect.
    Let’s say that you’re managing your mental health well, but your friend is scared. It makes sense that they are scared. You can acknowledge their fear without letting it become your panic.
     

  4. Focus on the many things you can control.
    What can you do? You can prepare and make room for fun. Here are some ideas:
     

    • You can supply your home with as many goods as you can afford.
       

    • You can maintain good hygiene as best as you can.
       

    • You can hydrate, exercise, and stretch at home to help create a sense of calm and stay healthy.
       

    • You can moisturize. If you have an intimate friend or partner, you can moisturize each other.
       

    • You can make time for self-love. If you don’t have a partner that you are quarantined with (or even if you do), masturbating regularly can help your mood and release tension—and it can be a lot of fun. It also enables your body to stay sexual even when you aren’t having sex. Orgasms release the endorphins dopamine and oxytocin, which can give you a natural high. Need help getting in the mood? Eforia app is an excellent resource! 
       

    • You can call your friends on the phone or host virtual parties if you’re feeling lonely.
       

    • You can cook for yourself and friends whom you are isolating with, or you can bring food to your less able-bodied neighbors (while wearing gloves).
       

    • You can work on that project that you’ve been putting off forever.
       

    • You can binge-watch all the shows.
       

    • You can still get dressed (unless you like staying in sweats).
       

    • You can play with your appearance. Try out new looks that you have never felt bold enough to wear before, or do your make-up in new and cool ways.
       

  5. Be mindful of when it’s becoming more than just ‘being informed’.
    Notice your body and your body’s physical experiences. Before checking the news, do some body scans. You can lie down and gradually pay attention to the sensations in your body from feet to head. This allows you to become aware of every part of your body and determine if you are carrying any tension, pain, or aches. You can also download an app for mindfulness like Headspace or Calm. Learning to identify when your body is having an anxious response will help you address it.
     

  6. Breathe, connect, and take gentle care of yourself and others. Helping others helps you. Look at the list above, then make changes based on your needs and what makes you feel good.
     

This Dialectic Behavioral Therapy (DBT) Skills List is very handy in alleviating the panic that we might be feeling at any given moment about everything that is occurring. DBT is a type of therapy that helps people who struggle with trauma and coping. It can teach us how to calm down and implement self-care practices.

 

As you experience changes to your daily life during this challenging time, it is easy to focus on everything you are losing, but it’s also important to remember what resources you have available to you.

 

Now more than ever, it’s crucial to practice self-care. Go easy on yourself as you adjust to a new normal, and use these tips to help stay in touch with your body, mind, and spirit. You’re doing great.

Rachel Klechevsky is a certified sex therapist based in New York City. She has been practicing since 2012, having received her MSW from NYU and a degree in human sexuality education from Widener University.

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