For many of us, staying mentally strong through this scary time will be just as important as maintaining our physical health.
While it’s advisable to recognise rather than suppress our fearful thoughts, it’s also helpful to find ways of making sure that our justifiable concerns and worries don’t overwhelm us.
Recently, I’ve turned to some tried and tested techniques that usually work to help me focus and stay optimistic. These include mindfulness (staying in the present), positive visualisation (imagining good things to look forward to after the dreaded ‘peak’) and meditation (to help me sleep).
Despite my efforts to remain buoyant, I have certainly plunged down…and down on occasion, quickly delving into my bag of booster tricks to see what else I can pull out to try next.
One technique that I find handy is ‘flipping your thoughts’ to turn them into something more constructive. You might like to try this too. For example, here are some of the thoughts that I’ve flipped lately to make myself feel better:
I’m stuck at home! - I’m safer at home and so are my family and friends. Also, I’ll be helping the NHS and everyone else get through this quicker.
I’m powerless! - Yes, I accept I’ve lost control of my ‘normal’ life but there are things that I can do now no matter how small. Where’s my list?
I feel useless! - I’m not working on the frontline but I can help…I’ll see if my neighbours need anything.
Everything has changed! - Many things have changed in the short term. However, I still love the same people so I’ll spend more time enjoying my relationships.
All my work has been cancelled! - My work has been cancelled for now but I will get it back. How can I use this time to build for the future?
I don’t have any money! - I don’t have any money but this won’t be forever. What support can I apply for?
I’ll get sick or worse and so will the people I love! - Many people may get mild or even severe symptoms but most people will get better. I’ll do everything I can to stay healthy and assume that we’ll get through this.
It’s never going to end! - It may well be a long haul but I’ll take it step-by-step. What can I plan to cheer myself up - what about an online quiz night with friends?
Throughout this crisis, it’s likely that many of us will feel like we’re riding an emotional rollercoaster…because we are! And, yes, finding ways of staying calm and positive will no doubt help.
However, I think that it’s also important to recognise the magnitude of what we are all going through. This includes accepting that, no matter how strong we try to be, we are still going to feel like sh…riveling up under the duvet on occasion. And, when this happens, it’s OK to go with the flow without feeling guilty or weak. For example, yesterday, I listened to so much bad news that I almost had a panic attack for the first time ever. Rather than reach for a paper bag (virus alert!) or berate myself into “getting a grip”, I just slumped down in the chair, read my book and blocked it all out for an hour or so…mid-morning too. After which, I felt much calmer and more able to get on with my day. Onwards!
If you’ve got any useful tips or techniques that you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org