The COVID‑19 crisis has caused a significant worsening of the population's mental health.
In such an unprecedented time of uncertainty, we might find ourselves getting caught up in a spiraling vortex of fear and with so many questions that can fire up our anxiety: “Will I lose my job? Will I return to my workplace? How and when can I safely reconnect with friends and family? Do I need to accept E-learning as new normality? Should I get the vaccine?" Etc.
We have gathered some tips and ideas hoping to inspire you and help you cope with the lockdown!
10 TIPS TO COPE WITH LOCKDOWN
1. LOOK FOR THE GOOD STUFF: Looking for something positive every day! It could be helpful to start with writing every day a list of 5 things you are grateful for!
2. CONNECT WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS: Finding a family activity to share with your loved ones or face-timing the ones you can’t meet face to face.
3. HELP: Sending a gift or donating to a cause, or little gestures such as giving vouchers to people, donating to food banks. Helping others helps you too.
4. GET OUT: Getting out of the house, even if it is just to sit on your doorstep. You might not need to go far to be in nature, it is all around us! Being in nature is not only about walking by the beach or jogging in a park. You can experience the grazing sun or a gentle breeze that caresses your skin, you can smell the dew after the rain and listen to the birds singing also if you live in a city.
5. FREE YOUR BRAIN: If watching the news is triggering your anxiety, stop listening, watching, or reading any news and ask a friend or your partner to tell you only what you need to know and then get on with life one day at a time.
6. FIND A CREATIVE PURPOSE: Starting an online business, writing a book or starting a blog, painting, dancing, or singing, what’s important is the fact that you’re doing it for yourself!
7. HAVE A LAUGH: Watching an old comedy show or a movie that is always fun to revisit. Our favs are: Back To The Future, The Hangover, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, There's Something About Mary.
8. THE GOOD OLD ROUTINE: Routine, planning, and more in general some structure in your day helps your brain to experience familiarity which is for the mind equal to safety. A great example could be implementing a meditation routine. Taking time out of your day to reflect and de-stress is a manageable habit that could take even 5 minutes of your day or less, definitely worthy to explore!
9. FOCUS ON SMALL GOALS: If you need some sense of control to feel healthy, just give yourself small achievable goals to regain that sense of control. Writing a to-do list and then choosing the top three priorities for the day, allowing yourself to move the other tasks into your to-do list for tomorrow!
10. BE KIND TO YOURSELF: Treating yourself. What are the things that have a soothing effect on you? Here some ideas: having a hot bath, burning some sage or incense in your home; listening to relaxing music (for instance flute and piano symphonies or the sound of the ocean and rain), moisturising your skin after a bath or a shower, wearing comfy clothes and slippers and wrapping yourself with a soft blanket, using a home diffuser for essential oils and changing fragrance according to what you’re doing, for example, lavender for relaxing and resting, peppermint for reading and studying, etc.
What you are going through is part of the human experience and of course, at the moment it feels challenging, but it won’t last forever. Don’t underestimate human resilience!'
WHEN UNCERTAINTY BECOMES ANXIETY
Struggling with uncertainty is part of the human condition, but if the worry gets too big, it can get in the way, trapping us in an anxious state. Anxiety can also show up acutely at the strangest times, triggering unexpected defensive responses and feelings of
fear, sadness, tightness in our body (usually chest, neck, and stomach). And we don't even know why.
Distraction is Only Temporary – you need a strategy
It's tempting to distract and zone out when that happens. The most common anxiety escape strategies are scrolling, Netflixing, eating, and staying too busy!
However, these strategies don’t lessen the anxiety: it's right there waiting for you when you stop. Anxiety is a warning sign, it is technically there to protect you from what your brain perceives as imminent danger! However, rationally speaking there is no imminent danger here. I know… you must be thinking: “Thanks genius, now please tell me something that I don’t already know!”
Well, here you go: when you make room for your emotions underneath the anxiety, usually fear, sometimes sadness, and/or shame, you can actually “calm your anxiety”. Yes, you are getting this right, I am asking you to stop avoiding and welcome your anxiety and learn from it.
Sit with your emotions
When you can uncover your emotions, you might discover you're holding on to a lot of grief from the accumulated losses of this past year. Or that you're really scared of what happens when life becomes somewhat normal again. You might learn you're angry at a world. These emotions are valid.
Then, think about how you'd like to respond to the truths you've discovered about how you feel.
Ask yourself what you need to feel better, what are the values or priorities that the pandemic has taken away from you, and wonder if there is anything you can do to get yourself closer to these values.
If there is any action you can take, make a plan, break it down into super-duper small achievable goals, and thank yourself for showing up! If there isn’t any action you can take to change the situation (by the way, are you sure that there is nothing, not even a really small thing that could help), then just welcome acceptance, send yourself kindness, and thank yourself for showing up!
You are stronger than you think you are
Many people fear how they will manage if the virus happens to them. They worry about how they would cope with quarantine, a day-care closure, or a lost income. Human minds are good at predicting the worst.
Research shows that we tend to overestimate how badly we’ll be affected by negative events and underestimate how well we’ll cope with and adjust to difficult situations.
Be mindful that you are more resilient than you think. It can help attenuate your anxiety.
During these anxiety-provoking times, it’s important to remember the tried-and-true anxiety prevention and reduction strategies.
Get adequate sleep
Spend time in nature
Employ relaxation techniques
Although you might feel helpless during this stressful time, following these strategies can help keep anxiety from becoming a problem in its own right and enable you to make it through the epidemic more effectively.
When to Seek Help
Feeling your feelings can be hard sometimes.
If you’re having trouble calming anxiety, identifying and accepting your feelings, and figuring out what to do with them, it may be time to seek professional help.
Many resources are available, and we can also help. This is what our online services (Telehealth) are here for!
To book an appointment with a psychologist please feel free to contact us via email or submit a message through our website.
If you need immediate help, please don’t hesitate to call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Sources and Resources
Evans S, Alkan E, Bhangoo JK, Tenenbaum H, Ng-Knight T. Effects of the COVID-19 lockdown on mental health, wellbeing, sleep, and alcohol use in a UK student sample. Psychiatry Res. 2021 Apr;298:113819. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2021.113819. Epub 2021 Feb 23. PMID: 33640864.