We are affected by the stress caused by the COVID-19 virus, what it means for us as individuals, our friends and family and communities, and economy. Some are most stressed by uncertainty, some by the isolation, some by the additional stress at work, kids at home. It is easy to get overwhelmed by the changes and the uncertainty.
For helpful tips from Dr Russ Harris, author of The Happiness Trap, click here for information
Tips for coping with worry
Remember, fear and anxiety are normal, natural responses to threats, danger and uncertainty. But it is easy to get lost in worrying and ruminating about all sorts of things that are out of your control.
The function of worry is to solve a problem or urge you to action – to do something - but if the stressor is out of control, or you have done or are doing all you can, worrying becomes unhelpful.
The more we focus on what’s not in our control, the more hopeless or anxious we are likely to feel.
So the single most useful thing anyone can do in any type of crisis is to: focus energy on what’s in your control.
For helpful tips from Russ Harris, author of The Happiness Trap, click here
What is in your control?
- Do things the help yourself,
others and the community.
- Get exercise.
This is a way for your body to recover from the increase of adrenaline and cortisol that results from stress and anxiety
- Limit your sugar, alcohol and caffeine intake.
Because anxiety is physiological, stimulants may have a significant impact.
- Try not to get caught up in the judgement others.
The truth is we do not know why that person is getting 4 packs of toilet paper (maybe they work in a nursing home?), but we do know that if we dwell on judgements, it just makes us more upset and it not helpful. It doesn’t make us feel calm.
- Practicing gratitude.
Lots of people are working hard to control this virus. We are better off than a lot of people.
- Don’t binge on news and have breaks from social media (unless it is to connect with others)
– stay informed; mute stuff that is triggering; schedule dedicated news time.
- Stay socially connected with others
– agree on regular check in times to feel connected to others. If you're self-isolating, strike a balance between having a routine and making sure each day has some variety.
- Help others
– when we act in line with our values, we improve our sense of well being.
- Worrying –
if worry is overtaking you, give yourself dedicated worry time; spend dedicated time writing your worries, or ask yourself what you can do that is helpful.
- Practising relaxation, meditation and mindfulness to give your body a chance to settle and readjust to a calm state.
AnxietyUK suggests practising the "Apple" technique to deal with anxiety and worries.
Notice and acknowledge the uncertainty and or worries as it comes to mind.
Pause and breathe. This stops habital or panicked reactions and a nice deep breath into the and a slow exhale calms the anxiety centre of the brain.
- Pull back:
Tell yourself this is just the worry talking, and this worry or need for certainty is not helpful. Thoughts are not statements or facts.
- Let go:
Let go of the thought or feeling. It will pass. You don't have to respond to them. You might imagine them floating away in a bubble or cloud. Or you can replace the worry with something like “It’s only uncertainty, or we are all in this together, I’m not alone”
Explore the present moment, because right now, in this moment, all is well. (Even if it is not, we can handle each moment if we take one at a time)
You can ground yourself in the present moment
by noticing your breathing and the sensations of your breathing. Feeling the sensation of the ground beneath you. Look around and notice what you see, what you hear, what you can touch, what you can smell. Right now it is safe.
- Then shift your focus of attention to something else - on what you need to do, on what you were doing before you noticed the worry, or do something in line with your values, who you want to be in such a moment - mindfully with your full attention.