There is a lot of understandable fear and confusion surrounding the coronavirus. Not knowing what is going to happen next puts us in a place of uncertainty, and for us humans anxiety is a natural reaction to the unknown.
As well as worry, it’s likely we’ll experience all sorts of emotions, so what can we do to get through the storm, take care of ourselves and cope with this period of uncertainty?
Self compassion is being kind and understanding towards ourselves. It’s like putting a supportive arm around our own shoulders, with a view to comforting and encouraging ourself. Try saying to yourself “It’s OK. Everyone is feeling this uncertainty. It’s expected that there’ll be good days and tough days. We are all just doing our best.” “I wish this wasn’t happening, but it is. I don’t know when, but this WILL pass.”
Self compassion helps us to feel better and be resilient - particularly if isolated because of possible exposure or because we normally live by ourselves. It helps us realise our emotions are normal, and it calms the part of our brain that is uneasy and putting our bodies in flight or fight mode.
Getting carried away with torturous thoughts about the future is not uncommon, but also adds to your stress. If this is you, try to deliberately pay attention to what is actually going on right now. Look outside. Listen to sounds. Sniff the food or drink you are about to consume. Ask yourself “How am I feeling right now?” and do your best to accept yourself whatever the answer is.
Mindfulness meditation can be a fast way to “Calm your Farm” (as my kids would say!) The Insight Timer App has lots of free mindfulness meditations.
Try 4-7-8 Breathing for anxiety or strong emotions
Here’s how you do it:
Reach Out to Others
Even when we can’t meet in person, keep connecting by phone, video call or messaging! It’s one of the best ways to reduce anxiety, depression, loneliness, and boredom during social distancing and isolation. Try to be open about your feelings and invite them to do the same. We’ll all have moments of calm or fear, so take turns leaning on one another for support. Having fun and laughing is very valuable in tough times, so joke around and be light hearted too.
Engage Your Mind
Are you constantly thinking about the virus? Finding activities that stimulate our mind and distract us is important: work from home, play games, read, write, do puzzles, watch interesting movies or TV shows, then have conversations about what you’ve been watching and learning.
While staying informed is really important, also take breaks from the news. Regularly doing something pleasurable and distracting is very important for your wellbeing.
Staying physically healthy is important, so find ways to exercise like going for walks up our lovely Millwater hills when you’re able, dancing with the kids or doing yoga (I recommend Yoga with Adriene on YouTube – perfect for newbies!). Moving your body increases feel-good chemicals, decreases chemicals that make us feel down and increases body temperature which also helps us feel calmer.
Connect with Nature
If it’s safe to do so, take a walk in a green or open space. If at home, look out the window or watch the sunset. Notice how you feel when you do this. Nature can have remarkable calming and healing effects on how we feel and can be a powerful tool in coping with anxiety.
Practice Optimism and Gratitude
Last but not least, maintain a sense of hope and positivity. We may be living through a new experience but we are doing what we can to get through it safely, healthily, and compassionately. Chances are, we will start to miss a great many things, but talking about or writing down things you are grateful for can be a great way to zoom in what is going well under the circumstances.
Whatever each of us is going through, try to remember that none of us are the only one going through it. Take care of yourself and of one another. Things will be OK.
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