1. BE AWARE OF YOUR OWN ANXIETIES AND STRESSORS
As the world continues to feel the effect of Coronavirus, many people are experiencing anxiety as a direct result, often for the first time. Anxiety can show in a variety of ways. Most of us experience mild anxiety, such as an uneasy feeling in our stomach or slightly increased pulse rate,on a day-to-day basis. Those with Moderate anxiety may feel nervous and agitated or exhibit stronger physical and emotional anxiety symptoms such as muscle tension, back pain and changes in sleep pattern. Severe anxiety occurs when you stop being able to think rationally and experience severe panic, confusion and agitation.
Whilst it’s natural to want to keep up to date with the latest Coronavirus news, try to limit your updates to reduce the likelihood of increased anxiety. When you do experience stress, try relaxation techniques such as meditation and mindfulness to recognise and own your thoughts and use all your senses to stay in the ‘here and now’.
If you do experience increased stress or anxiety as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s important that you talk to someone about how you’re feeling and seek help.
2. GIVE RELATIONSHIPS TIME AND SPACE
Maintaining a harmonious household can be a challenge at the best of times, but as we find ourselves confined, and in close proximity with others for sustained periods of time, the ability to maintain healthy and happy relationships may feel harder than ever.
It’s important to set a clear routine and stick to it. Have regular house meetings to discuss ground rules, reach out to childcare settings to get suggested routines and ensure that you regularly check-in with you household on their wellbeing and any small changes that could be made to help.
If you do find yourself in an argument, try and listen more and react less. If you have a frustration, start with how the issue makes you feel, not with an attack or by blaming. A good rule of thumb when arguing is to do it with “I” statements and not “you” statements – e.g. “I feel hurt when you don’t answer me when you’re on your phone”. Not “you’re always ignoring me when you’re on your phone”. Always remember that resolving conflict is about understanding and compromise, not about winning.
3. UNDERSTAND THE MANY GUISES OF GRIEF AND LOSS
As a consequence of COVID-19, many people will unfortunately be touched by or experience loss, whether through bereavement or loss of a job or team member.
If you’re suffering from loss, have patience with yourself and your feelings. Allow yourself time to process your emotions, and when you are ready to speak about your experiences, do so. You may find it therapeutic to write a journal and keep a note of small wins – little daily victories – to boost your confidence. Although it may sound difficult at this time, give yourself permission to have fun and be happy. It is finding joy in the little moments that make life worth living.
If someone you know is suffering from a loss, try to avoid ‘rescuing’ them with helpful comments or nudging them to talk. Although the intention is positive, this approach can leave people feeling as if their pain is not seen, heard, or valid. One of the most helpful things we can do is to offer space for people to grieve. In doing this, we are letting the person know that we are available and accessible when they are ready to talk.
4. KEEP LONELINESS AT BAY
The coronavirus outbreak has seen a rise in many of us feeling lonely and disconnected – and sadly, people who are already isolated and lonely may become more vulnerable than ever. So, finding ways to connect – even from your own home – is important. Below are some ideas to help:
- Try to keep to a regular routine, encompassing a plan of a few things to do each day in order to instil a feeling of purpose and accomplishment. Where possible, include some self-care activities each day, such as reconnecting with an old hobby or keeping a journal of your emotions.
- Even though you may be unable to socialise in person, make sure you plan in phone calls and catch up regularly with your loved ones. You might want to build in activities at the same time, so think about hosting virtual bake-offs, book clubs or yoga classes to mix things up a little!
- In addition to staying in touch with family and friends, you can also combat loneliness by participating in online exchanges with other people around the world. These don’t need to necessarily be your online “friends,” but rather those with whom you share something in common and you communicate online.
5. PRACTICE MORE GRATITUDE
Studies have shown that positive emotions, including love, hope, laughter and pride can go so far as to undo the harmful effects of negative emotions, such as stress, fear and anxiety. That’s why practicing gratitude and upping your levels of other positive emotions (which is not to say “be happy all the time”) can be beneficial during the coronavirus outbreak.
Don’t beat yourself up if you are having a hard time feeling grateful right now. The best thing you can do for yourself during these uncertain times is give yourself the space to process your emotions however you need to process them, and at your own pace.
Start simple – take note of all the things that make you smile throughout the day, even if it’s for a fleeting second. You might want to build these thoughts out into a daily gratitude journal, or maybe they could form the basis of thank you notes. One of the kindest things we can do during this crisis is to simply say “thank you” to those who are doing what they can to fight the outbreak.