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My name is Liz Younger. I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania. I have been thinking about how everyone is feeling during this quarantine. It can be stressful, particularly, since there are a lot of unanswered questions about the current situation. I believe the key to maintaining control over our personal situations, is doing activities that help us feel useful and in control. Maintaining your sanity and your humanity in the time of the coronavirus quarantine.

1. Contact friends and family routinely via TEXT, PHONE or VIDEO CHAT/FACETIME. You could contact old friends to catch up and explore how they are managing. This can be helpful especially if they have experienced a disappointment during the quarantine such as canceling a vacation or another important event/occasion. Remember to be patient with each other.

2. Having a virtual gathering – ZOOM allows for multiple people (3) to participate in a 40-minute meeting for free. You can invite people to join for a short get together. The other night, my sister held her 50th birthday party using Zoom. We wore party hats, played trivia (using Kahoot.com), karaoke, live musical performance and just plain old conversation. I have heard that people are being very creative with Zoom and are having virtual book clubs and happy hours. The possibilities are endless.

3. Take a course or a class online for skill improvement or personal enjoyment. Many institutions are offering free online courses. I am taking a class at Harvard and MIT, who woulda thunk. I am auditing the courses, but if you want certification there is a cost. Of course, YouTube is always offering learning for everything you can think of.

4. Doing physical activity – walking, yoga, cleaning, bicycle (weather permitting). Again there is plenty of online support for motivation. This morning, I did a virtual walk with a patient. I was on my treadmill and they were on theirs. We did a mini-tour of our spaces and the patient introduced me to members of their family.

5. Investigating solutions for your financial concerns. I have a relative who was able to extend their mortgage payments for three months. The IRS has moved the date to file your taxes to July 15, 2020 and so has the state of Pennsylvania.

6. Do the chores or to-do lists that you usually don’t make time for. Now is the time!

7. Spend time on your favorite hobby/activity. Or just binge-watch a show, documentary or movies you have not had time to watch. Maybe a little personal pampering. Long baths, facials, hair treatments.

8. It is important to stay informed, but use some discretion about how much news you are exposed to and your news sources.

9. Many mental health providers, including myself, are using telehealth. Many of the insurance companies are providing telehealth benefits. Please check with yours to see what the benefit is for your plan. If you want to find a therapist, you can go to Psychologytoday.com or Healthgrades.com. These are both sites where you can review therapists in your area and decide who might be best for your needs. It is critical to select from your state of residence as licensing regulations vary from state to state. Pennsylvania just enacted that out of state-licensed practitioners can provide services in Pennsylvania, but there does not appear to be any reciprocal legislation allowing Pennsylvania to practice in other states. This information will be updated with any changes.

10. One of the most hopeful things I have been observing is families spending time together being a family. Taking walks, completing puzzles, posting pictures on social media on how they are spending time together. It is a beautiful outcome in this situation. Remember this is the time to let people close to you know how important they are.

Please feel free to give me or any other mental health professional a call. We would be happy to talk to you, email you or text you. You can go to my website, LizYounger.com, Psychology Today page or my Healthgrades listing. There is a space on each of these listings with a phone number to reach me and a space for you to email. I welcome any questions you might have. I really wish you well through this time of quarantine. Remember, we are all in this together.