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'One-day-at-a-time and limit media exposure:' Ottawa social worker on coping with isolation

"Don't borrow from the future. Be in today," says Ann-Marie O'Brien.
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A social worker at The Royal Mental Health Centre in Ottawa suggests some of the best ways for someone to get through long periods of self-isolation are frequently checking in with emotions, making a daily plan, not looking too far into the future, and not getting caught in a media spiral.

Ann-Marie O'Brien told 1310 NEWS' The Rob Snow Show on Friday, it starts with acknowledging that the COVID-19 pandemic has landed us in unchartered territory.

"That requires us to do a bit of a check-in," she explains. "How am I? What are my emotions like today? What can I do with what I've got?"

That's when O'Brien says residents should look at their day and put together a plan of how they can be most positive and constructive.

"What is within your control today? What do I have today that I know to be useful for myself?"

O'Brien suggests spending time doing brain exercises like puzzles, or physical exercise -- a walk around the block is good for social distancing and provides fresh air which can help improve your mood.

Looking too far toward the future, meanwhile, is not such a great idea, according to the social worker. She says it's best to take things one day at a time.

"Don't borrow from the future. Be in today."

Focus on those things and activities you are in control of, she stresses, "I'm in control of how I spend the next hour. I'm in control of how I can manage my emotions for the next minute."

O'Brien admits, it's a mentality that sounds easy at first, but it is challenging and requires a lot of practice.

Lastly, she advises cutting back on media exposure of all kinds -- get the information you need once or twice throughout the day, but that's it.

"A 24-hour news cycle isn't good for our health. Limit that and check in with yourself -- 'Is this causing me to be more agitated?' -- Turn it off," explains O'Brien. "Facebook and Instagram can be a rabbit hole that takes you to places you didn't mean to go. Kind of discipline yourself to limit that exposure and turn your energy to more positive, helpful activities."

O'Brien adds, "It requires some energy and intention, but it is possible to have a better day."




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Mike Vlasveld

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Mike Vlasveld, Village Media Community Editor, OttawaMatters.com
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