Coping with Corona
As I begin to write this weeks blog, I, perhaps like many of you, am still trying to process the news of a second lockdown. As the winter months draw in and at a time when the festive season is fast approaching, I find myself wondering what the future holds for both the global economy and the lives of all individuals at this awful time.
We are all experiencing this pandemic from a subject basis, some fearing for their livelihoods, some for their loved ones, and yet one thing is certain for us all...life has changed. It is a confusing, uncertain and heavy time. It is also a time that at present seems to be without end. Something that is abundantly clear however, is that this time is requiring us to retreat back to basics and allow our mental and physical health to take precedence.
I am aware that some of you are exasperated with hearing about Covid and that conversely some of you may be living under an umbrella of fear, so this week I write with much trepidation but ultimately to reach out to those who may find comfort in what I have to say.
Mental health issues have been amplified as a result of the virus and it is expected that cases of depression, anxiety, PTSD and OCD will continue to persist even after the virus has left us. With this in mind, I have put together some coping strategies below to help minimise the impact that Coronavirus may have on our mental wellbeing.
As life changes we lose our rhythm and routines. During lockdown we may rise later, leave washing and dressing to the late morning, decrease time spent of constructive pastimes and generally fall into unhealthy patterns of just “being”. Find and create new positive routines, this could be getting up at a specific time to do a work out or designating times to reach out to others and chat or learn something new. These routines may feel far removed from what feels normal to you, but they will help to create purpose, normalcy and regularity, which we as human beings thrive on. It may be helpful to create a timetable or write your routines down, if this will help to motivate you.
Demonising your emotions
We are conditioned to believe that emotions are either good or bad. Please know that emotions are neither positive or negative, they are informative. Emotions are merely a response to either positive or negative situations, that induce awareness with a "sometimes" purpose of helping us to decide, either to continue with a course of action or to change it. Therefore at times like this when you may be experiencing a whirlwind of emotions and subsequently feelings such as contempt, irritation, loneliness, insecurity or confusion, know that this is a healthy, normal, natural response to being dealt a crap hand. Suppressing and demonising these emotions will serve little purpose than to add to ill feeling, anxiety, depression and cast shame upon ourselves. Talk, and allow these emotions an outlet to be processed. Also know, that generally emotions are trying to communicate something to you and to those around you, about what you need in that moment. Where an emotional need is felt, responding with positive action will be far more beneficial than trying to hide or suppress it.
Look after your basic needs
Abraham Maslow created a hierarchy of need, that defines our basic physiological, psychological and social needs. In reality our basic humanistic needs are few, however society conditions us to see what is desirable as essential. Understanding what your needs are and creating the flexibility of mind to differentiate these from your wants, will help you to prioritise your money, time and energy, towards the things that will keep you mental and physical well. I have included a link to Maslow’s Hierarchy of need, for anyone interested in seeing if and where their needs are being met. It may also help you to identify where your basic needs are not being met and to encourage you to reach out for help if this is the case. It is so important at times like this to ensure that you maintain good hydration/nutrition, get adequate sleep and connection to others, and that you exercise and feel safe in the environment you are in.
Connection with others
As stated above, connection to others is a prerequisite for a healthy mind and body. With this in mind, finding creative ways to connect with others will be of huge benefit at times like these. Contact via the telephone, face time or at social distance, will help you to feel less isolated. Have a poker night via skype, or a girly night in via Zoom. It may not be the same, but it will allow you to feel somewhat connected.
Do things that bring you happiness and engage the senses.
This may seem like common sense advice, but the truth is that the more we disconnect, the less likely we are to engage in activities that bring us happiness. Make time to walk, play or pick up hobbies. Life may have changed but remember, it is not completely cancelled! Furthermore, if you feel that you are becoming emotionally desensitised (numb), do things to engage the senses. Smell pungent aromas, expose yourself to vivid colours, eat highly flavoured foods (even sucking on a lemon will help). Believe it or not, the simple act of engaging the senses in this manner has the power to help with desensitisation.
Be helped and help others.
I will state this simply, if you are struggling…ask for help! This could be financial, emotional or physical. Help can be provided in many forms from people you know, as well as people who are currently volunteering their time to offer assistance. Furthermore, employing compassion to help others, has been proven to raise both the spirits of the helper as well as the person being helped…win, win!
Times are tough and there is no underestimating the havoc that this virus is wreaking within our society, our homes and our minds. I hope these few tips help, however in researching and writing this blog, I came across a government resource which has a comprehensive breakdown on coping with any mental, physical and financial difficulties, that you or others may be experiencing and organisations that could be beneficial for anyone facing challenges. I urge anyone who is struggling to have a look and for anyone who is reading this, to share the website address. It might just make all the difference to someone.