As we work to keep ourselves and each other healthy, we’re facing some huge and unexpected changes in our daily lives. We’re struggling to understand exactly how the Coronavirus will affect our jobs, our incomes, our childcare and our safety. We’re also feeling the heavy emotional weight of the current global situation. Over the coming months, we’re going to have to work harder to stay well both physically and emotionally.

Stress levels can be even greater for those who have lost income and are living paycheck to paycheck. While there are no easy solutions, a starting point might be to visit Oregon Employment Department’s website page about employment resources related to COVID-19. Worksource Oregon also has offices in Bend (541) 388-6070, Madras (541) 548-8196, Prineville (541) 447-8076 and Redmond (541) 548-8196.

While navigating these big challenges, it’s important to take a step back and use the extra time we have at home for self and family care. How we manage stress looks different for all of us. Here are a few ideas to consider as we spend more time at home.

Take breaks from screen time

It’s hard to break the habit of checking computer screens, especially right now. I find myself scrolling headlines, trying to stay on top of the rapidly changing COVID-19 recommendations. I’m feeling overwhelmed by the amount of information coming at us from all directions. On the flip side, it’s nice to have some distractions like streaming movies. And with social media, we have the ability to stay connected with friends and family without risk. It’s really a matter of finding balance. Maybe we start by taking longer breaks from screens everyday and doing some of the things we wish we had time for. I’m listening to more music (really listening), reading and journaling.

Doing something creative

Did you know that creativity can boost our immune system? It actually improves our brain function, mental health and overall physical health. Check out this article from Forbes Magazine: Here’s How Creativity Actually Improves Your Health. If we use our extra time at home to let our creative juices flow, we might be able to counter some of the effects of the stress we’re feeling. Here are some ideas from if you have kids in the house.

Going outside to play

There’s science behind the mental and physical health benefits of getting outside. One way to maintain social distance and avoid crowds is to enjoy some open space and fresh air. We have so many options here in Central Oregon! It’s easy for me to get a little too cozy and avoid leaving the house when there are CDC recommendations to stay home AND there’s snow on the ground. This morning I took my dog Rye out for a walk to the dog park. It’s hard not to smile when I see him bounding around with a huge doggy grin on his face. Here’s a great article from Business Insider: Being outside can improve memory, fight depression, and lower blood pressure — here are 12 science-backed reasons to spend more time outdoors.

Getting organized

Clutter can be stressful. I find the busier I get, the more disorganized my space gets and the grumpier I get (just ask my family). With more time at home in the coming weeks, I’m thinking about little projects that will help me declutter and allow me to feel calmer in my space. Here’s an article from Healthline that might give you some ideas and make organizing less overwhelming: 5 Small Ways to Get Organized When Your Depression Has Other Ideas.

So among all of this uncertainty, we have a small gift of extra time that we can use to stay centered and mind our minds. Here’s to staying cautious, considerate, hopeful, calm and healthy over the coming weeks. Take good care of yourselves.

Linda Quon is Vice President and Director of Communication at Quon Design and Communication. Linda is working to promote everyday mental health awareness in partnership with Deschutes County Health Services and Central Oregon Health Council — which includes providers and health advocates from Crook, Jefferson, and Deschutes Counties. Linda was born and raised in Southern California and moved to Central Oregon with her husband and two children in 2005. Her mother lived with Schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder and her oldest brother also experienced bi-polar disorder. With support from family, friends, therapists and primary care providers, Linda has been navigating the world of mental illness most of her life — including her own struggles with mild anxiety and depression. Linda is proud to work as an advocate for mental health and a  blogger for Mind Your Mind Central Oregon.