Psychologist shares tips on calming down through self-talk amid social distancing

Social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic can wreak havoc on your mental health.

If you are currently observing the CDC-recommended practice — which, if you are, good for you! — you might also be feeling heightened anxiety, stress and loneliness.

Lori Greene, a Ph.D. clinical psychologist in Westchester County, N.Y., told In The Know that it is “completely normal” to feel “confused and overwhelmed” during a time like this — but with the power of positive self-talk and guided meditation, she says it’s possible to mitigate these negative feelings.

“It’s really crucial right now.”

“I’ve heard a lot of patients saying, ‘I can’t do this. I can’t get through weeks of being isolated,'” Dr. Greene revealed. “We all have sort of an inner dialogue, right? And many of us are a little bit wired to pay more attention to negative dialogues in our head.”

“Positive self-talk really exists in the context of negative self-talk,” she continued. “It’s really crucial right now as we see rising levels of anxiety and depression.”

“We really want people to take care of themselves so that their symptoms of anxiety and depression don’t turn into anxiety disorders or clinical depressions,” she added.

‘This will be hard, but…”

Dr. Greene described positive self-talk as being optimistic and realistic about the hurdles that lie ahead as millions of people around the world hunker down in their homes for an unknown period of time to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“It might not be saying, ‘I can absolutely do this and it will be a breeze,’ because you might not really feel that. That might not register with you,” she said. “It might be something more like, ‘This will be hard, but I know I’ve been through hard things in the past and I trust my strength enough to keep marching through this challenge.'”

In terms of positive self-talk during really intense moments of stress, Dr. Greene recommends not underestimating the simple “power of breathing.”

“Five slow, deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth,” she explained. “Noticing your stomach rising and falling. The diaphragm is the muscle right below your ribs. That’s what you want to inflate. That can really be done any time, anywhere, to reduce a moment of panic or high stress.”

Watch the video above to go through a calming guided meditation session with Dr. Greene.

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