By Suzanne Grimmesey, MFT, County of Santa Barbara, Department of Behavioral Wellness

Emerging public health protocols and social adjustments due to COVID-19 challenges our collective emotional wellbeing. As human beings, we are wired to be socially connected with others. In fact, there are many positive physical and mental health benefits from being connected to others.  Conversely, social isolation and a lack of physical contact can carry concerns for negative emotional impacts.

Coping strategies include keeping oneself connected to both accurate information as well as to other people, while adjusting this interaction to minimize risk. Here are some strategies for coping with social isolation:

  • Practicing mindfulness and relaxation exercises
  • Stay connected by phone and electronically
  • Keep current connections strong
  • Stay informed through reliable sources
  • Limit your screen time
  • Eat healthy and drink plenty of water
  • Call elderly and house-bound friends and neighbors to see how they are feeling. Bring them meals and special treats, being mindful of their vulnerability and susceptibility.
  • Play board games with your kids
  • Read to your children and have them read to you
  • Take on a home project, paint that wall that you have been thinking about
  • Work in the garden
  • Have push-up contests or do yoga together
  • Make special meals and involve the whole family, eat healthy!
  • Order in meals from favorite restaurants that you don’t think normally do takeout
  • Get outside – go for walks, runs, and hikes (maintain social distancing)
  • Assign someone at work as your Morale Officer to focus on your team’s wellness

We are wired to be socially connected. Doing so safely requires diligence and creativity. Keeping a positive and informed perspective that we will get through this, together, is critical to reducing the emotional impacts and continuing to create resiliency.

For more information about how you can prevent getting and spreading the coronavirus and what steps the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department is taking to protect our communities, please visit: https://publichealthsbc.org/.

Suzanne Grimmesey, MFT, is the County of Santa Barbara’s Chief Quality Care and Strategy Officer and is responsible for leadership of Quality Care and Strategy Management within the Department of Behavioral Wellness.