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10 ways to find comfort in uncertain times

Social workes enjoys her visits with patient John Tracey

Hospice of the Valley social worker Joy Martin and Nurse Gina Day with patient Jack Tracey.

The Arizona Republic
April 10, 2020
By Lin Sue Cooney

In times of great stress, we are especially vulnerable; the social distancing we are all practicing to stay safe is taking its toll and we are challenged trying to keep our children mentally and physically active. We may even find ourselves feeling bored or lost because familiar routines have been disrupted. We miss the way things used to be!

But it is possible to stay positive, maintain daily connection with others and regain a sense of control in our lives. Here are 10 tips from Hospice of the Valley that may help ease the distress and isolation some of us are feeling.

Stay calm. Focus on the positive. Remind yourself this is a temporary situation and do what you can to assist others in a safe way.

Have a daily plan. Whether you are working from home or not working at all during this outbreak, organize your time and keep your schedules as normal as possible, so life can still feel manageable. Do things that give you a sense of control.

Do a spiritual reset. Instead of getting lost in uncertainty, realize that all we really know about is today. Challenge yourself to appreciate “living in the moment.” Practice mindfulness or short meditations to help you focus on the present. We have guided mindfulness practices you can do from the comfort of home, at no cost, at hov.org/our-care/mindfulness. We also have two relaxation videos to help calm and soothe anxiety, “Magic Kite Relaxation” and “Forest Relaxation,” can be found at https://hov.org/resources/grief-resources/.

Manage anxiety as it occurs. Thought stopping can be an effective technique to prevent our imaginations from spiraling out of control.

Eat a healthy diet. Empty calories do not give you the healthy fuel you need to feel good. They can bog down your system and weaken your emotional immunity. Be aware that alcohol significantly lowers physical immunity. Find alternative ways of relaxing.

Exercise. This is a must to help manage stress, depression or anxiety. Your body’s natural serotonin is one of nature’s most important mood stabilizers. Research shows even a short brisk walk can effectively manage depression.

Find your positive voice. Watch your narrative. Our thoughts tend to be more negative when we are hurt and grieving. Connect with positive people. Read, watch programs and find uplifting stories to engage your mind.

Don’t isolate. Isolation is a huge trigger when grieving. Call, text or email at least two people daily to avoid negativity and maintain social connections. Everyone benefits.

Limit how much you talk about the virus. Don’t let it become the focal point of conversations and take command of your entire day. Set limits on news watching. Stay informed but do normal activities.

Start or keep a gratitude journal or notepad. Before going to bed, write down one or two things you are grateful for. Let those thoughts lull you to sleep — relax into them. Do not succumb to a nightcap unless it’s a warm, caffeine-free drink.

Life is full of circumstances we cannot control, but we can control our response to difficult situations. This is an opportunity to embrace positivity and find new ways of helping each other and ourselves successfully navigate this uncertain time.

And if you have a bereavement need, don’t hesitate to call Hospice of the Valley at (602)530-6970 or visit hov.org.

Lin Sue Cooney is director of community engagement at Hospice of the Valley.