As you read this, it will be about 3 weeks that we all have been practicing social distancing, and isolating in case of those who may have had contact with someone who tested positive. It is difficult to predict how we will be affected by this in the long run, but we do know that prisoners in solitary confinement suffer tremendously. Levels of anxiety and depression go up to be debilitating. We are dealing with a situation most of us never even imagined could happen to us. So let’s take a look at how we may deal with it in a way that will lessen the ill-effects.
There is no completely effective substitute for face-to-face human interaction, but we live in an age where electronic communication such as FaceTime, or Skype means we can reach out to others. Our landline phones enable us to talk even with those who may not be into virtual contact. However, it is important to recognize that we all need to disconnect from being totally wired. We know that one of the soothing aspects of life is being out in nature. Do take a walk; this being Spring, savor the blooming trees and flowers; feel the warmth of the sunshine.
It is also important to take a break from media, be it social, print or visual. Yes, we need to know what is going on in our world but being constantly plugged in adds to the anxiety too.
On a positive note, as I went to a few grocery stores, I couldn’t help but notice that people were smiling at one another, saying hello, and making comments. Perhaps there is a better sense of community, that we are all in this together and we need to support one another?
I also want to touch on how our relationships are affected by spending lots of time with one another. For some, this is life as usual. For others, it is a drastic change from before. As such, it can strengthen the bond, but it can also weaken it. Be alert to how you are dealing with it. Make sure you take extra care of your physical being: Eat healthy and take breaks from virtual work you may be doing.
Finally, if you haven’t before, practice mindfulness, meaning observing what you are thinking and feeling, mentally and physically. Shallow breathing indicates anxiety. Take a few deep breaths, close your eyes, and give yourself the gift of taking good care of yourself. All of us need those moments of peacefulness.
As a psychologist in private practice since 1979, Janan Broadbent, Ph. D. offers individual, couples, group and family therapy, in addition to conducting workshops on topics such as stress management, communication skills and assertiveness. She writes about current issues relevant to relationship building and conflict resolution in LGBTQ and minority populations, with emphasis on health, fitness and education.
Born in Turkey, Dr. Broadbent earned her undergraduate degree in psychology in 1965. At that time, first as a Fulbright Scholar, then as a CENTO Fellow, she received her master's and doctorate degrees in psychology and education from the University of California at Los Angeles. She has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in psychology at St.Mary's College of Maryland, Mt. Vernon College in Washington, D. C., Johns Hopkins University and the College of Notre Dame in Baltimore. From 1981 to 1988, she was also the Director of Counseling at Notre Dame College.
While in graduate school, Dr. Broadbent worked for the Voice of America radio program, writing and recording materials on the cross-cultural college experience. She has been interviewed on various news programs on TV and has received media training.
Dr. Broadbent is a member of the American Psychological Association and has served as the chair for the Public Affairs Board and as a member of the Executive Council of the Maryland Psychological Association.
Dr. Broadbent's office is located at:
Village of Cross Keys, 120 West Quadrangle, 2 Hamill Road, Baltimore, Maryland 21210-1847 phone: 410-825-5577