The COVID19 crisis has led to profound changes in every aspect of our life.
One of the challenges we face is coping with prolonged and intense feelings of anxiety, uncertainty and loss of control loss in the context of an unprecedented threat to our safety?
Many people will also be struggling with financial worries, accessing health services, keeping in contact with family and friends, finding ways to exercise and obtaining healthy food. People who normally struggle with higher levels of anxiety with conditions such as generalised anxiety, social anxiety, panic disorder, OCD, trauma and others may experience a worsening of their symptoms.
Although we cannot control the events in the wider world, if we focus our attention on what we can control, it can help restore our sense of calm and normality.
Many people have developed their own strategies to cope with life’s challenges, and those strategies are invaluable in the current crisis.
Other essential strategies include managing your exposure to distressing information, creating a routine at home that mirrors your day to day to routine before the social distancing measures were introduced, practising good sleep hygiene, minimising alcohol, caffeine and other stimulants, exercising regularly, staying in touch with your social network via whatever method you can, practicing mindfulness and meditation, making space for difficult feelings to process what is happening taking time to do enjoyable activities and hobbies and practice self care.
The more creative you can be in your problem solving the better. We only have to look at the creative solutions that have been generated by individuals, business and government in meeting out basic needs…
Cultivating ways to focus our attention through mindfulness, meditation or activities which create a positive mental state known as cognitive “flow”. Activities like gardening, cooking, craft, writing, DIY, restoring or repairing a treasured possession, tinkering with a bike, car or constructing an object, exploring new IT skills, allow us to become completely absorbed and focused. When we are in such a positive and engaged “flow” state we derive enjoyment, lose track of time and feel calm and emerge with a sense of achievement.
In the context of so much personal loss and suffering, taking time to appreciate what we do have can also be very soothing. Taking time each day to consider what we feel grateful for is also a strategy used by positive psychology, meditation and many religious practices.
Personally, I feel immensely grateful to the many health professionals who give their time and risk their own health to care for us all. I am also grateful to the people working in supermarkets and food suppliers, delivery drivers and people working in the core services we need…. electricity, water, internet, postal and waste collection service to name but a few.