The endlessness of day upon day of uncertainty, even if it means you get to chill on the couch, can result in stress symptoms and negative behavioural patterns. While in theory it is great to stay at home, not having the option to go out and not knowing when this may change, is challenging.
Add to this the knowledge that there is a global coronavirus pandemic taking people’s lives daily, and it’s hard not to feel like you are going a little crazy… So, if you are feeling a little ‘loco’ right now, the good news is that there is a way to take back some control of your life.
Here are six strategies to keep you calm, mindful and confident during lockdown
- Routine matters: everyone talks about routine but no one explains why it’s important. The rationale is that through routine and discipline,we feed the brain experiences of control – we create situations in which we consistently decide the when, what and how of our day. In these unprecedented times, uncertainty is one our biggest enemies for mental wellbeing, creating certainties through routines is a critical strategy in your resilience journey.
- Manage your social media: decide on one or two trusted and reliable sources and only look at those. Allowing the ongoing mass of Covid-19 related data to take over our mindspace is not healthy. No matter how many times we check the infection and fatality rates, we cannot change them by doing more than we are now – staying at home. So, let’s focus on that and not the onslaught of news. Also, educate yourself about credible information sources and do not pass on #fakenews. For some great tips on recognising #fakenews check out this article.
- Connect regularly with your tribe: Beyond connecting randomly, a useful strategy is to have a list of people who add value to your life for different reasons. Identify who you go to when you need a laugh, sound advice or a shoulder to cry on – then call them when in need. Encourage your friends to do the same too; in this way you form a resilience community for each other. Also important is knowing who to avoid because they feed your demons.
- Healthy body, healthy mind: Don’t underestimate the role that ‘what you consume and how much you move’, has on your state of mind. During lockdown even how hydrated you are will impact your ability to cope with the stress of self-isolation and social distancing. Equally, watching the growth of your girth as you munch your way to temporary solace is especially distressing when there is no certainty of an end in sight.
- Set aside time to fall apart: It’s ok to be scared and it’s ok to cry. We are so often encouraged to hide our feelings or put away the inconvenient emotions of life. Give yourself permission to acknowledge what is worrying you – have that cry in the shower, it allows your body to physically release stress. What’s more, when you acknowledge your fear, you understand what you are working with and gain insight into the tools you may need to cope.
- Practice peacefulness: Developing and rehearsing calm-down and decompression strategies helps us to build in coping mechanisms for times of stress. There are some great apps -available, such as Headspace and Calm, that provide you with useful, daily 3minute meditations to de-stress your life. Brain Working Recursive Therapy is another effective tool to learn – it allows you to wire in responses so you can react to a stress situation healthily without having to reason it through.
Shelley Hall is a Clinical Psychologist.