The Corona virus can affect us physically, emotionally, economically, socially, psychologically.
When we are facing any type of crisis, fear and anxiety are inevitable, normal responses to uncertainty and threatening events.
It’s very easy to get lost in rumination and worry about all kinds of things that are out of our control; what may happen in the future; how we and our loved ones might be affected; how our community or the world around us may be affected and so on.
The following tips may help us all to cope with living with Covid-19/ the Coronavirus
Focus on what is in your control
While it is natural to feel anxious and to worry, focusing too much on the things we cannot control can increase our anxiety and helplessness. So the single most useful thing we can do in any type of crisis, is to focus on what is in our control.
Acknowledge thoughts and feelings
Silently and kindly acknowledge whatever is showing up inside: thoughts, feelings, emotions, memories, sensations, urges. See if you can be curious about these reactions rather than immediately responding to them, gently observing them with curiosity.
Come back to the body
While observing our inner experiences, see if it is possible to bring attention to what is happening inside the body, physically. See if you can bring attention to these things without attempting to change them:
- the physical sensations of your feet on the floor
- the sensations at the points of contact your body is making with the chair
- the sensations of sitting in your posture, areas of tension
- the physical sensations of the breath as you breathe in and out. Perhaps following the breath from the tip of the nose, all the way in through the mouth and down, all the way to where the in-breath ends; and then following it all the way out again.
Engage in the present
Get a sense of where you are and refocus your attention on your surroundings in this moment. You could try these tips to help you do this:
- notice 5 things you can see around you
- notice 3-4 things you can hear
- notice what you can taste in your mouth
- notice any smells around you
- notice the physical movements in your body as you continue with the tasks you are doing in hand
Doing things that matter most to us can maintain our moods and bring about a sense of wellbeing. Are there things you have been meaning to do for some time, but you haven’t had the time to get around to? Now could be that time – re-engage in things you used to enjoy, learn a new skill, have a sort out, or simply refocus on your wellbeing.
What simple ways can you look after yourself, those you live with, and anyone you can realistically help?
Throughout the day, ask yourself, “what small step (no matter how small) could I take to look after myself, others around me?” and then engage in that activity fully and with all of your focus.
Make room for difficult emotions that are around you and be kind to yourself when they show up. These times are anxiety provoking and stressful for many of us and this comes out in different ways, such as anger, sadness, loneliness, guilt, confusion, fear and many more.
We can’t stop uncomfortable emotions from showing up, so instead of squashing them down, see if it possible to allow yourself to experience a little more of them than you might normally, even though they are difficult.
Treating ourselves and others with kindness and with an understanding that these times are difficult and we are doing our best to cope, is really important for our wellbeing. Self-kindness is important in caregiving to others. If you have travelled by plane you’ll be familiar with the advice to put our own oxygen mask on before we can help others.
Taking committed action in line with our values has been scientifically proven to boost wellbeing. Some of your values may include humour, respect, honesty, caring, love, compassion, patience, kindness.
What sort of person do you want to be as you go through this crisis? What do you stand for in the face of this? How do you want to treat others, your neighbours, yourself?
What are the kind, caring ways you can treat yourself, your family, neighbours, community. When you look back on this crisis, how would you like to be able to describe your actions?
Identify resources for help and assistance, support and advice. Who can you speak to in your friends, family, neighbours and health professionals or emergency services.
Make sure you have a list of emergency helpline numbers, including psychological help, that you or others can access easily if needed.
Can you be a resource for others? If so, let them know.
Disinfect and Distance physically
Of course, wash your hands! And keep 2 meters apart from anyone when leaving the house. These simple steps save lives.
Acknowledgements: Dr Russ Harris, The Happiness Trap & CNWL