When a pandemic like the Coronavirus happens in the world around you, it can be incredibly scary and overwhelming. Everything around you seems to have changed and be out of your control. You may be on lock down at home; or be on social distancing restrictions; or you may have had your work affected due to the virus- all of these sudden changes can really affect your mental health.
Being in control
We all like to be in control of our own lives and be able to plan for the coming days and weeks. Unfortunately, with an outbreak such as the Coronavirus, it takes away this sense of control. We don’t know what our lives will look like afterwards, and for how long this will go on. There are many unknowns, which can really put pressure on our mental health and feelings of anxiety and depression.
There are things that you can do to look after yourself and your mental health during this time. By taking charge of things you can control, it can help you to feel less anxious and less powerless.
Looking after your mental health while spending more time at home
The advice for us all is to limit the amount of time we are going out of our homes; to practice social distancing and stay at least 6 feet away from others; and to limit your social interactions so as to prevent the spread of the virus. This means you have more time alone at home or just with a few other people depending on who you live with.
It will feel very different and a strange new way of doing life. It is important to see this as a different period, not one you have chosen, but it is a period and it will pass. You don’t have to enjoy every minute of it, but try to see the good in it – more time to relax; more time with family or loved ones; more time in general as we aren’t rushing around as usual.
Create a new routine
Your normal every day routine has been completely disrupted, whether it’s trying to home school the kids and work from home; or even if it’s just being at home being unable to work. It is new, it is different and it is uncomfortable.
By creating a new routine, it can help to bring comfort and familiarity into this time. Our normal lives were filled with routine and times for each activity – so bring that into this new time.
Allow time for exercise and for doing things you enjoy within your day, but find a new way of doing life and aim to stick to it for a few days until it becomes the new normal and becomes comfortable. This creates stability and can help you cope better with the rest of the unknowns.
Exercise, eating well and getting a good night’s sleep are all simple things you can do to help your body, and your mind cope better during this time.
Stay connected with those you love
It is a time of being physically distant from many of your loved ones due to lock downs or social distancing. But it doesn’t mean you need to be socially distant from them – with new technologies like video calling and group video calling, as well as voice notes, video notes, emails and playing games online together – there are many ways besides a normal phone call that you can stay in touch.
So even on the days when you don’t feel like it, make an effort to call a friend or send some messages. We need connection, and it helps you to feel less alone, lonely and isolated. We are all in this together, so reach out to friends to help each other get through these difficult times.
Filter your sources of information
There are so many news stories, videos and updates about what is going on with the Coronavirus, and not all of them are based on fact. It is important to stay aware of what’s going on in your area. However, too much information, and the wrong information, is a bad thing.
Choose a few reliable news channels, ones with a balanced view so as to get a fair understanding and all perspectives of what is going on in your area. Don’t follow the rest of them.
Also be aware of what is being shared on WhatsApp groups and other social media groups – if you are finding there is a lot of fake or sensationalist news being shared, leave the group. You need to look after your mental health and choosing reliable, solid news sources is a good way to do that.
Anticipate bad days or moments
There will be days that are easier than others and you will have moments where you feel overwhelmed as you read the news, or are feeling stuck at home. This is ok, and to be expected. The world is different and there is a lot of uncertainty. Be prepared for these low moments, allow yourself to feel the emotions you are feeling, and take a moment to breathe. These emotions are part of your body and mind adapting to this new way of being, it is part of the acceptance of the new situation.
Have a few coping methods in place for these days – whether it’s a favorite meditation; a call to a special friend; ; playing with your pet cat or dog an exercise session or a hot bubble bath.
Get help if you need it
If you are finding that you feeling overwhelmed a lot and very anxious and fearful, despite trying different methods to calm yourself and look after yourself, you may need some extra help.
It is then best to speak to someone professional who can help you to find ways to cope and look after your mental health in new ways. At The Center • A Place of HOPE we have caring and experienced health professionals that can help you to get through this, and give you hope that there is a way forward even in the midst of this outbreak.