Fear and uncertainty are the two words that many clients used in our sessions in tha last few weeks as they talk about coronavirus and its impact on their lives. Similar feelings and emotions are expressed by members of my family and by my friends. With it officially announced a pandemic and with the fast growing numbers of cases all over the world, COVID19 makes us feel helpless and overwhelmed. Many of us are anxious and stressed. As a result, we feel helpless, guilty, unhappy, irritable or emotionally numb. Our feelings result in reactions that affect our relationships, health and cognitive abilities. Everyone’s reaction to stress is different. But there are several things we can do to cope with them.
- Books. Research shows that reading can distract us from our problems, take us away into different worlds where we are lost in a good story. Reading is quite a relaxing activity that helps to improve cognitive abilities like memory and critical thinking. Of course, in the current environment, it is a great way to distance ourselves from others.
- Meditation. Loved by many and considered as another modern fad by some, meditation is known to have great benefits. By bringing us to the present moment, it helps us to pay greater attention to our feelings and emotions in the now. As a result, we better understand ourselves and enjoy life more. There are many apps out there and it is worth trying them. My top 3 are Headspace, Calm and Simple Habit. It’s also worth checking YouTube as there are many meditation channels available to access for free. Try Positive Magazine meditations or The Honest Guys mediation channel.
- Colouring in. If you don’t like to meditate, colouring in is a more creative approach to it. Colouring books are easy to buy in shops. There are also downloads that can be printed out. However, kids colouring books are as good. A couple of years ago I used my son’s colouring book and he was not impressed with me when he discovered it even though he hardly touched it until that moment.
- Journaling. Have you ever tried journaling? It is a good way to de-stress. It is proven to boost our mood, enhance positive feelings, improve self-awareness and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. My clients spoke about it a few times, saying how much journaling helped them to deal with difficult feelings or to cope with problems.
- Gratitude. I have to admit, I don’t do journaling, but I use my journal for everyday gratitude. In the mornings I write down 3 things I am grateful for. Every day is different but the most frequent entry in the morning is coffee. In the evening I reflect on the day and capture something that happened I am grateful for and add it to my journal. Gratitude helps us to reframe our mindset, see more positive sides of events and brighten our outlook.
- Social media. Limit your access to social media. When it comes to great movements like #metoo, social media is a irreplaceable resource. But in times of world pandemic reading posts and comments on Facebook or Twitter can cause a lot of anxiety. One of my young clients with anxiety mentioned a positive change in their mood a few days after they began to schedule their access to Facebook and Instagram accounts. She would only check them twice a day for 20 minutes.
- Daily routine. What’s your usual wake up time? When do you usually go to bed? What time is your meal times? Just because we are at home all the time, just because we don’t have to take kids to school in the morning, just because there is no need to be physically present at a meeting, doesn’t mean we should change our daily routine or got o sleep later and later. Sticking to a daily routine makes our days structured and makes us less anxious.
- There are other things that you can do if you feel anxious and stressed. Relax with music, binge watch your Netflix series. Don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t stick to that strict diet. Make your favourite cup of tea and enjoy that rich chocolate cake. But no matter what you do, follow the government recommendation. Stay in. If you have to go out, keep a safe distance from others. And follow all hygiene recommendations. Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay connected.