As each of us tries to cope with the outbreak of Covid-19 and the changes it has brought, it is normal to feel anxious about what is happening. Although everyone will react differently to the situation, we are all dealing with the inundation of news surrounding the virus, determining the necessary precautions to take, and adjusting to self-isolation or social distancing.
Many of us are feeling stressed as we navigate changes in our work environments, or navigate between work and home (as I write this, I am currently trying not to get distracted by my children’s questions of what to do). If you are already coping with a mental health condition, you may find that your symptoms, thoughts, or feelings have been heightened recently.
The following are some tips to help you cope with your experiences and changes during the Covid-19 crisis:
#1: Take Care of Your Social Connections
Although we are practicing social distancing, it does not mean that we cannot maintain connections with our loved ones. As humans, we need emotional connection to help us feel safe and secure, and to belong. Studies have shown the impact of loneliness and isolation on our emotional health, and as we practice social distancing, we have to be mindful of how it may trigger or aggravate our feelings of loneliness or isolation.
If you are staying at home under self-isolation, or if you are at work but cannot interact with others the way you are used to, try to use technology to bridge the connection. Instead of using your phone to check the latest on the news (and bringing you down), use your phone to call, message, Facetime, Skype, Whatsapp, or Snapchat with your friend as you go about your day. When we are on technology, we assume that we always have to be actively chatting to stay on. However, it is okay to Facetime your friend and watch an episode of The Stranger on Netflix together (of course, be mindful of your data use!).
#2: Take Care of Your Thoughts
Pay attention to the thoughts that lead to feelings of worry, anxiety or stress. Gently challenge these thoughts with facts about Covid-19, and create a plan of action to help you to stay healthy. In this way, you are focusing on what you can control.
Remind yourself that you are not alone in navigating the changes that have arisen. It may be helpful to think about the opportunity the situation has given to help you slow down.
#3: Take Care of Your Feelings
At times, the inner critic may surface to judge how you have been coping with the changes. You can cultivate self-compassion by practicing hand-on-heart, where you place your hands on your heart, and while taking deep breaths, say a compassion statement such as “May I be kind to myself”.
#4: Take Care of Your Physical Health
Whatever your fitness level is, it is beneficial to exercise and eat healthy, as these steps help to combat feelings of depression and stress. Physical activity may include taking deep breaths, stretching, doing workout videos on YouTube or going for a short walk (if possible).
#5: Build Routine and Flexibility
It is helpful to develop a routine and be connected to familiar things to help you stay anchored during this rough time. At the same time, build your resiliency (your ability to cope with change) by allowing flexibility in your day-to-day schedule.
We hope you find these tips helpful. As always you can reach out to me for further support. For the time being, psychotherapy sessions are available by phone or video as I am committed to providing you with support while also taking social responsibility to help flatten the curve.
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Amreeta is a Registered Social Worker, and a Psychotherapist, who works with adults and teens in working with shame, and building self-confidence.