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Uploaded:2020-03-24
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In which John discusses his difficult week and the mental health tips for social distancing from Partners in Health. You can read the PIH article here: https://www.pih.org/article/10-mental-health-tips-coronavirus-social-distancing

I also made a printable list of these tips, which you can view here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/10bDwtsvNAxtti63a2JNNvIOeQHeGimZkpvw0HvXrDG8/edit?usp=sharing

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Good morning, Hank, it's Tuesday.  So it has not been a great week here.  I loved you video on Friday, it gave me comfort and context and I have so much to be grateful for, but because of my anxiety problems and OCD; I just don't have a brain that's particularly well suited to disease pandemics.  I mean, I guess no one does but, yeah, I'm just having a hard time.  For help I have virtual therapy and medication, but the thing I found most helpful this week was actually mental health tips shared by Partners in Health informed by the experiences of people who have lived and worked amid big disease outbreaks.  PIH really values partnership, like, enough to put it in their name; because in global health, like in so much else, everyone needs to learn from everyone.  I mean, during the Ebola outbreak community workers in Liberia became experts in contact tracing.  Mental health providers in Sierra Leone have worked with people who have had to self isolate to prevent disease.  We have a lot to learn from these people.
And so in the PIH model, all around the world colleges learn from colleges and then use that knowledge to serve patience and the public.  And these ten mental health tips from PIH's head of mental health Dr. Bepi Raviola came from a wide variety of experience of living with social distance.
And so on some level this is advice from people who've been there.  
First, social distancing does not mean emotional distancing; use technology to connect.  I think this is especially important because so many people are going through big traumas, serious illness, losses of jobs, losses of every kind imaginable.  And in those experiences it's easy to isolate.  For many of us, me included, that's dangorous.  So, social distance cannot mean emotional isolation; for me that means lots of facetime and phone calls.
Two keep clear routines and schedules, seven days a week, but don't go overboard.  Yeah, this is really hard for me, like, I need routine but kind of by definition routines take some time to establish so I'm trying to be patient with myself.
Three, Exercise and physical activity, daily if possible.  When I am sad or scared I have an Overwhelming desire not to exercise, but if I can bring myself to exercise I Always feel better.  
Four, Learning and intellectual engagement- books, reading, limited internet; for me this means, books, essays and watching highly intellectual marble racing on YouTube.
Fifth, Positive family time- working to counter negativity.  My kids are so good at countering negativity, I just need to learn from them.
Six, Alone time, outside if possible, but inside is ok too.  Yeah, so my only alone time at the moment is my daily bath, which I am SO grateful for.
Seventh, Focused meditation and relaxation; I think for me that's taking a bath
Eight, Bathe daily if possible.  Slightly off topic, but I'm keeping a gratitude journal and like, eighty percent of the ink goes to baths. 
Ninth, remember the things that you really enjoy doing that you can do in this situation and find a way to do them.  So this is a big struggle for me and many of my friends; I have friends who love their jobs but now don't have that job, or can't do it in the way they love.
A lot of what I like about being a person is not easily replicated in a time of social distance.  But there are things I love that I can still do, and focusing on them does bring me joy.
For instance, I like re-watching the movie Penguins of Madigascar because it is the greatest achievement in cinematic history and I like reading, and I like the taste of the one diet Dr. Pepper I drink per day and so on.
Lastly, Limit exposure to TV and internet news; choose small windows and then find ways to cleanse yourself of it.  This really resonates with me, because I have an obsessive thinking disorder, and too much time spent with the news does not make me better informed, it makes me panicked which makes it harder for me to be the things I need to be right now; a father, a friend, a concerned citizen and so on.  Remembering that is key to my personal mental health.  I keep a list of these ten tips; I will link to them in the doobly do and when I am scared or overwhelmed I look at it and I think; what on this list, could I do.  It's not a magical cure, but it is helping me and I hope it might help you too.
Hank, I'll see you on Friday.