The coronavirus pandemic is leaving many of us feeling anxious, even more uncertain about the future than usual and as if everything is out of our control. While we can’t control what other people do or the global spread of the virus, there are things we can do to take back some control in our lives. It’s a really important time to practise self-care and to look after ourselves, so we can protect our own mental health and wellbeing.
It’s easy in the midst of this pandemic to succumb to fear in the face of uncertainty and unpredictability, we all have our good days and bad days. Covid-19, has forced us to live differently and it’s sometimes hard to remember when didn’t have to thoroughly hand wash, search for food, shop differently and practice social distancing. It can be difficult to stay centred and refrain from succumbing to our worst fears. Here are a few suggestions to help us keep on top of those wobbles.
Keep Routine – Plan your time and do things that make your feel calm. With so much uncertainty in the news, creating a routine helps maintain a sense of structure and normality, particularly if you are caring or having to keep the kids on track. As much as possible maintain your routine by getting up in the morning and going to bed at the same time. Eating regular meals and staying hydrated and taking breaks, or a bit of fresh air throughout the day. Perhaps just talking to someone or doing something that you enjoy. Try activities in your home that get you moving and make your feel calm and fun like yoga or dancing.
Know the Facts– It’s the same for all scary events and possibilities that life brings us, go for the facts, even difficult ones, because anxiety escalates and fantasies flourish in the absence of information. But don’t overdo it, as too much information can aggravate stress. Thus, avoid unregulated online news sources.
Identify the sources of your anxiety– we are all hard-wired for a fight-or-flight response and in this situation, a constant external crisis, it creates a continual simmering of fear and anxiety. The more we focus on it the more we get stuck in fighting and blaming on one hand, or distancing and cutting off from others and wanting to run away on the other. Try and use breathing techniques to help calm the fight and flight, also distractions and routine help us manage our fear .
Connect, connect, connect -Social distancing doesn’t mean we have to isolate, it’s essential to stay connected and to communicate with others, family, friends, neighbours and any other resources that are out there. Use the phone, text, email, zoom classes, all means possible, to stay connected to, anyone who matters to you. Especially those who induce a sense of calm in us rather than fear and anxiety. We need to hear other people and they need to hear us.
Don’t skip the self-care. At this time, we need to care for others, but we also need to be gentle and care for ourselves. We especially need to keep our resilience topped up right now to get through this time. Everything that goes under the umbrella of ‘self-care’ is essential right now. Slow down, engage in healthy practices and try to sustain regular routines that bring comfort and stability. Anything goes as long as it helps, conversation, exercise, yoga, healthy eating, meditation and reading are all good starting points, or more healing things like art, singing, journaling and being useful to others. They all build cohesion, resilience and lift our spirits, but overall try and keep a sense of normality and find ways to reframe your thoughts, through our sense of fun and humour.
Here is a message from doctors, psychologists and researchers at the NHS Traumatic Stress Clinic in London, the UCL Institute of Mental Health and the COVID Trauma Response Working Group to all our colleagues in the National Health Service and all over the world affected by the coronavirus. https://youtu.be/WFWvkjJ755Y