We are witnessing two pandemics; COVID-19 which is biological and widespread snowballing anxiety which is psychological. For the psychological trauma we are proposing that people in quarantine to adopt the following behavioral prescription which we call 20BEADS:
20 – Complete the following activities for 20 minutes each day.
Breathe Slowly & Deeply From Belly
The B stands for breathing, in this case, a technique we call diaphragmatic or slow belly breathing. The goal is to breathe using your abdominal muscles instead of your chest and shoulders for a pace of 5 seconds in, 5 seconds out. I recommend downloading an app called Paced Breathing (Android) or Breath+ (Apple) that will teach you how to do this. The important thing is to simply get started today at 6 breaths a minute, meaning 5 seconds inhale, 5 seconds exhale all from the abdominal area. One of the side effects is getting sleepy, which is one way you know you doing it correctly – certainly do not drive a car while you’re doing this.
The EA stands for exercise aerobically. In my experience the only thing more dangerous than a person not getting any aerobic exercise is a person who at one point did get exercise and stopped for whatever reason like getting too busy at work or a pandemic. The part of your brain that was accustomed to getting the exercise doesn’t seem to care why it stopped. All it knows is that it’s being deprived of something essential. Because our bodies were designed to be on the move, aerobic exercise, something that makes you sweat and gets your heart rate up is essential. It is medicine – it is not a luxury but a necessity!
Finally, the DS stands for daily socialization. It’s imperative that at least once a day, you pick up the phone or use a video platform like Skype or Zoom to speak with someone that you’re close with. Isolation is psychologically draining and it’s imperative that you force yourself, even if you don’t feel like doing it, to continue to make contact with the outside world. I want to point out the all three of the recommended activities may seem to be a burden, yet they still have to be done. In cognitive behavior therapy we call this “acting against the feeling” or “acting against the belief” but what it really means is do it, no matter how you feel about it! Ignore any feelings of “I’ll put it off” or “I’m too tired” as it is only the behavior that counts and it is essential medicine, especially during this crisis.
Robert H. Reiner PhD BCN BCB, Executive Director and founder of Behavioral Associates (BA), has been practicing psychology since 1981. He specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for individuals, couples and families alone or in combination with Biofeedback, Neurofeedback, Virtual Reality Therapy (VRT) and QEEG assessment. He is well known for his work in treating anxiety and phobias through biofeedback and virtual reality therapy. He has been credited for this work in articles in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, New York Daily News, USA Today, Newsweek and Time Out magazine. He has specifically had great success in treating patients for fear of flying which was documented on an episode of The National Geographic Show featuring Dr. Reiner’s work with a phobic patient. Learn more about Dr. Reiner.
Behavioral Associates has been serving New York City since 1988. Dr. Robert Reiner, Executive Director and Founder, has been an expert psychologist for over 30 years. Our practice has expanded to now include 15 various mental health professionals, including psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers. In 2014 we officially created the Child and Adolescent Center to prioritize our care to patients ages 4-17. In 2016, we expanded our practice to include the Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) Center, as well as the Clinical Training Center, which oversees the professional development of current Psy.D and Ph.D students from top schools across the nation.