social workers' advice for staying healthy and engaged

COVID-19 - March 31, 2020

Goodwin Living Social Workers Offer Advice for Staying Healthy and Engaged During Difficult Times

by Amanda Ranowsky

As we celebrate National Social Work Month, we recognize the wisdom and support that so many social workers around the country provide. Especially during challenging times like these, social workers are there to offer resources and advice to those who may be struggling. We asked a few of our social workers for their advice on staying healthy and engaged during this period of uncertainty.

Elisabeth Robinson, LCSW for Goodwin Living at Home:

My best piece of advice for staying healthy and engaged during times like these is to remember to stay calm, to be patient, to limit the time you watch, read, or listen to the news because it is anxiety provoking, and to remember that social distancing does not mean social disconnecting.  Pick up the phone and call someone or send a note to let them know you are thinking about them.

This “new normal” has led to grief and is an unplanned change. We are all grieving and have lost part of our identities, the way we work, the way we attend classes, the way we engage with others, and the luxuries we took for granted (for example, toilet tissue is now practically as valuable as gold).

Monica Hutchins-Thomas, LCSW, Director of Social Work at Goodwin House Alexandria:

Stay connected to those that normally support you, whether that is family, friends or fellow residents. For those who can, keep those connections by calling those who are important to you. We realize that is not possible for some, so the staff in the Small House have set up Skype calls so that residents can see their family members.

Exercise if possible – look for online streaming or televised fitness classes. Many residents are walking the hallways and getting fresh air on the roof terrace.

Sleep late – the reduction in schedules can offer a chance to turn off the alarms and let your body wake up naturally or take a restful nap in the mid-afternoon.

Take the opportunity to complete a project that you may be putting off. Read those New Yorkers that are piling up or just finally throw them away!

Nutrition – eat well and control your alcohol consumption.

Barbara Fornoff, LCSW, Director of Social Work at Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads:

I could sum it all up by saying: Use the Serenity Prayer: God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference.

From that prayer, all these ideas flow.

  1. Stick to a routine: get sleep, then, get up and plan your day with the activities you CAN do to engage and practice self –care.
  2. Get dressed, get groomed as the old adage says “ Walk the talk until you can talk the talk”, or act as if you are still doing all the things you did before we needed to practice social distancing. When you look good, you feel better about yourself.
  3. Limit media exposure! This is essential as keeping glued to the news will not make you feel better and it disconnects you from the present.
  4. Reach out others: use the phone, use your computer or use a video platform that will connect you with your family and friends
  5. Look for the good: examples of how we are helping each other, sharing a smile and laughter is so important
  6. Find something you can control and focus on what you can change: empty a drawer, thin out papers and possessions that you can donate. Use this time to organize your environment. It is “found time”.
  7. Practice gratitude: keep a list every day of all the blessings you have
  8. Reach out for help: Social work, chaplaincy and all staff are here with you through this challenge.

Anne Van Heyste, MSW, Goodwin Hospice:

I advise the following:

  1. Go out in nature every day and take deep breaths of fresh air and feel your body relax.
  2. Cuddle your pet
  3. Feed your plants
  4. Putter in the yard
  5. Whatever your fancy: dance, sing (in the shower if necessary), just move
  6. Stay in touch with family and friends by phone, FaceTime, Skype
  7. Stay connected with older people and offer to do things for them
  8. Mentally look at the positive; do not focus on the death toll; look at all the brave efforts of each individual to respect voluntary isolation to prevent spread of the virus, look at all the good deeds.


As Marketing & Communications Specialist, Amanda Ranowsky partners with colleagues throughout Goodwin Living to tell our stories and raise brand awareness. From printed collateral to digital marketing, Amanda covers many bases. Before joining GHI, Amanda worked for a small, family-owned business where she gained experience in content marketing. Amanda’s creative expression extends beyond the office. She is an active member of community theater and chorus groups.


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