Given there is so much uncertainty about what the future holds and how our lives will be impacted by Coronavirus it is completely normal to feel overwhelmed, anxious or stressed.
On Monday a State of Emergency for Victoria was declared. It has become impossible to buy a roll of toilet paper, purchase pasta/rice and other essentials, visit large public venues and for many people continue on with life as normal in paid employment. Below are some tips that may help you during these challenging times.
Social media is great for sharing photos, connecting to others and watching cat videos. When it comes to reliable information and facts you are best to rely on reputable sources. Please go for quality over quantity. Reading widely will not necessarily make you more well informed in fact it is likely to just further increase your anxiety.
Below are two reputable sources that are updated regularly. Perhaps set aside time once in the morning and once in the afternoon to keep yourself aware and then in between go back to enjoying cat videos.
How you talk to yourself matters
In this current situation it is very easy to “filter out the positives” and become focused solely on what is not working. Obviously when we do this our mood will be low. If we can pause our thinking and challenge ourselves to also notice and focus on what is working, we will instantly feel a lift in our mood and spirits. Balancing both positive and negative thoughts allows for a more realistic view on situations.
Fortune telling is another thinking error that is likely to arise at the moment. When you begin to predict the future and start to panic, catch your thoughts, remind yourself that you are not psychic. If you were psychic, I am sure you would have invested in toilet paper companies last year.
Having compassion for yourself involves accepting that as part of being human we will all experience stress and suffering in life. If we can acknowledge this rather than fight against this reality, we can feel better. Psychologist, Kristin Neff, recommends taking a self-compassion break to help reduce stress and overwhelm. When you find yourself feeling this way, pause and take some deep breaths and say the following to yourself.
“This situation is stressful”
“I’m not alone. The community around me is also suffering”
“May I give myself the compassion that I need in this challenging time”
Right now, more than ever you will need good sleep to rest, restore and stay as healthy as possible. This is quite the challenge when there is so much unknown in our near future.
At least one hour before your bedtime turn off the television and disconnect from social media
If your mind is racing with many thoughts try writing them down to let them go
Practice relaxation strategies that work for you. Some examples include taking a bath, meditation, breathing exercises or stretching
Talking to people can help us feel connected and uplifted but it can also have the opposite effect. Be wary of being drawn into very negative fear-based conversations. These conversations often miss vital facts and catastrophising the situation can create an increased stress response for you.
Did you know that you don’t have to stay in a conversation if it doesn’t feel good? It is actually okay for you to pause the conversation and change the topic. If you feel comfortable you can assert yourself and place in the boundary or you can be clever and witty and shift the conversation quickly without them realising.
It is so easy to forget about all of the things that make us feel good when we feel stressed or anxious. In this situation we may need to be flexible and creative. Maybe you can set up an exercise routine or new hobby to complete at home? Who knows this new hobby may even end up a viable business opportunity one day?
Maintaining human connections matters
There has been a lot of talk about social distancing as a strategy to flatten the curve and reduce the impact of Coronavirus. Spending more time at home can be seen as an opportunity to slow down and connect with loved ones. Just because you can’t meet up in a big public event or venue doesn’t mean you can’t be social. Sending text messages, making phone calls or organising skype catch ups are all still possible. Social connections matter. Sense of community matters.
Let’s do our best to keep connected and hold each other through these uncertain and challenging times. We are all in this together. Warm Regards Jackie Bailey
Psychologist Owner of Buddy the Therapy Dog