Updated: Apr 8, 2020
Our mental health and wellbeing has never been more important than it is at this time. With the world feeling increasing amounts of fear, uncertainty and anxiety, we must make sure that we are focusing on taking care of ourselves.
Our mental health and wellbeing is being hugely impacted, unsurprisingly, considering the nature of this new virus. And whilst the concerns we all share surrounding our physical health is important and something we must stay conscious of, especially those of us with poor immunity and other on-going conditions, now more than ever we must also focus on and prioritise our emotional and mental health. Anxiety is widely recognised as a normal and expected response to feel in the face of a pandemic - this is all very new and worrying, anGiven the current global landscape right now, a lot of emphasis is being placed on our physical health it's totally ok to feel whatever mixture of emotions may be disrupting your peace.
Coronavirus is universal. And it’s scary as fuck. The virus is taking thousands of lives from our fellow humans, and we must make sure that we’re doing what we can to protect ourselves and others in these times. It’s no secret that social distancing is becoming more widespread; that working from home for many of us is becoming a reality. But in conjunction with all of these preparations and precautions in place to maintain our physical health, we need to also be actively putting in place preparations and precautions to protect and maintain our emotional and mental health and wellbeing at this time as well. It is essential that we become hyper vigilant in how we cope with the various stresses and anxieties that may be growing within our minds as we watch it all unfold each day. We’re all in this together, unfortunately, in that every single one of us could be noticing a decline in their overall wellbeing given these unprecedented circumstances.
Whilst a lot of people have felt anxious or overwhelmed on occasions before this pandemic, it’s important to highlight that there will also be a number of people who have had no experience of these types of feelings before and could be feeling them for the very first time. COVID-19 has created a situation that naturally is increasing the likelihood of people experiencing some feeling of anxiety due to what we, as a collective, are going through.
Some key areas in our lives/ mindsets have the power to knock us over the edge when they’re in jeopardy, and COVID-19 has expertly ticked the majority, if not all, of those. Understanding these different areas can help us to view what we’re feeling from a place of awareness and observation, rather than the feeling just gaining traction until we feel like there isn't a way out. So I think it’s important to touch on two of the most influential factors on our emotional wellbeing, so that when we do notice our emotions rising and panic setting in, we can soothe ourselves and recognise what it is that’s happening and why we’re feeling the way we are – rather than simply surrendering to the panic.
Top Trigger Points Coronavirus is exacerbating and how to manage that
1. Ambiguity/ Uncertainty
First of all, ambiguity of a situation can cause people to overthink and catastrophise, and therefore feel overwhelmed with a negative emotion of some kind. Ambiguity or uncertainty is very prevalent at the moment because no one knows what is happening or what is going to happen. There is no ‘cure,’ and seemingly governments and people in power are also doing their best to just muddle through this pandemic and figure it out as quickly as possible. That in itself is worrying for us all if we’re looking solely at the virus. The second element of uncertainty which, I think it’s accurate to say, is having an even more dramatic impact is that of the economy – and more directly, many of our jobs and companies are closing down or taking ginormous economic hits. The economic impact of COVID is gaining traction in many places, and financial security is one of the top causes for anxiety and stress. Not knowing whether you’ll have a job tomorrow, or if you can survive as your hours have been cut, or even disappeared, holds huge weight on our emotional wellbeing. So if these things are affecting you, and you’ve noticed your thoughts at times heading down that deep, dark rabbit hole – please remind yourself that it’s normal to feel this way. What you’re experiencing is uncertainty. And in the face of uncertainty, grounding yourself in positive affirmations can directly change your vibrational output and allow you to come back into balance rather than giving in to the overwhelm of all that is wrong.
I am allowed to feel the way I feel. This is a scary time, but I am going to get through it.
I am strong enough to manage whatever I difficulties and challenges I face.
This, too, shall pass. And when it does, I will be able to recover from any losses/insecurity I have suffered, and come out the other side.
I am not alone. As I hold space for myself, I also hold space for those who are even less fortunate than I am at this time.
Fear is associated in every crevice of this pandemic for every single one of us. There’s the fear for our literal lives, and those of our loved ones. There’s fear around our financial situations and our jobs. There’s fear about who we can talk to, where we can go, how close we can get to another person. We’re fearful of the worst case scenario, or how this is going to be fixed. We’re fearful because maybe we don’t trust the government, or the decisions that have been made. Fear stems from so many seeds of this situation, and as a result, enables and exacerbates feelings of anxiety, overwhelm, stress, panic etc.
Managing fear is a huge task at the best of times, but right here, right now, our focus has got to be on rationalising the risks. One way to help manage our fears is by creating a ‘response plan,’ or putting things into place that will mitigate the fallout should something terrible happen. This can help us to feel more in control, and therefore feel less like we’re just waiting for disaster to strike. When we do put measures in place, or make plans, or simply prepare in a minimal way for something we’re fearful of happening, we dramatically reduce the power it has over us because we have been able to scale the fear down to its actualised risk.
For example, if you’re scared about catching coronavirus and this fear feels pretty overwhelming to you, there are a number of steps you can take to feel more in control of what might, at the moment, feel uncontrollable. By self-distancing, working from home, isolating yourself, making alternative arrangements if you have to travel rather than using public services…. There are lots of ways you can manage the intensity of your fears, and therefore boost your emotional wellbeing, if you are committed to it.
Whilst some situations may feel more dire than others, I would highly encourage you to try and slow yourself down and take a few minutes, just jot down on a piece of paper some things you could do/ think about doing that will make you feel like things aren’t as bad as they could be. If you’re worried that you might lose your job and won’t have any money to support yourself – what would allow you to find some peace in this situation? Yes, you can’t guarantee your job. Yes you can’t guarantee that you won’t have to pay rent. But what you can guarantee is a contingency plan – or some precautionary measures that if you acted upon now would allow you to feel more secure about the future. Where can you cut back right now? How can you limit your expenses over the next few days? Search beyond the surface – general tactics might not be applicable in this situation, and that’s ok. We will come up with new ones. Even just voicing your fears and your concerns can have a huge impact on how overwhelming things feel. So pick up the phone. Call your friend, or your mum. Get it off your chest, if nothing else.
My fear is not bigger than my faith.
I am in control of what happens to me and how this plays out.
I embrace all that I am fearful of, because I know that I can use that energy to find a solution or strength.
I have overcome previous situations that have jeopardised me in this way before. I will overcome any challenges that come my way.
I recognise that my fear is trying to control me. I will not give it that power, and instead stay focused on all the things that are going well.
Some top tips for general wellbeing at this time:
Stay connected with your family and friends. Yes, you might be in isolation or unable to see them, but heeellloooo, pick up the phone! Facetime someone – and talk about something NORMAL for a while. Distract yourself. You don’t need to be obsessively reading every update or website, allow your mind to be filled with things that came before coronavirus.
LAUGH. For real. Laugh about something – whether you pop on a comedy show or reminisce something funny that once happened – it doesn’t matter. Just smile and laugh and remind yourself that this IS NOT the end of the world. It’s a bit shit, but it won’t last forever. And here you are. Alive. With the blessing of some kind of device to read this. Probably somewhere comfortable or familiar.
Give back. Help where you can. We don’t just help people for them, we as people gain so much from giving back and knowing we did something for someone else. Whether that’s donating to a charity, baking a cake and sharing it with your neighbour, help a family/ friend out if they need it. This will also remind you that there will always be someone less fortunate than you, no matter how bad things seem. This will boost your confidence and help you regain some power within your life. There is no downfall to giving back, especially at a time like this.
Maintain some normal. If you’re working from home/ isolating (even if you’re not), routines are a big element of maintaining your emotional wellbeing for a lot of people. Make sure you prioritise the normal things in life, like keeping yourself clean, exercising for 20 minutes a day (at leasssttt), keeping yourself fed. When we have a lot of time on our hands, and no real ‘purpose’ to our lives if we aren’t able to work or structure our days as we always have done, it can be easy to lose sight of those little habits that help to keep us sane. So keep conscious about that. I know for a fact when I’m home and have nothing to do, showering very quickly drops down my list of priorities… well, not this time! Make sure you shower – keep clean and groomed. It will help you feel better even if you’re not going anywhere particular. Maintaining connection with the ‘normal’ will have big beautiful benefits on your mindset and the way you feel. Don’t neglect these things.
Gratitude. Stay rooted in gratitude. Make a list of all the beauty and love that still exists around you in spite of a pandemic existing. Keep adding to it until you’ve shifted your focus so far from the dread of ‘what could happen’ in the worst case scenario of this, and allow yourself to feel calm in the knowledge that despite such a nightmare ensuing, there is love all around you. The sun is still rising every day, people are embracing the way we are now all united and spreading kindness in every corner of your world. Don’t allow your hope to waiver. Yes, this isn’t the best situation, but there’s something magical about the whole world coming together, facing a common enemy rather than each other. Keep coming back to your list. Know that we will get through this, and no matter what you are facing, you truly are strong enough to handle it.
Wherever you are in the world, hold onto your strength. Keep your mind strong, keep your heart open. Your personal struggles at this time are valid - don't be afraid to own that. You won't be the only one feeling this way, and it doesn't make you selfish. Prioritise your emotional wellbeing and your mental health - you will know what you need to do to make that happen. Be confident in your need to honour that.
Keeping you all in my thoughts - if you're back home, I miss you! If you need someone to talk to, please reach out. And please, everyone, take good care of yourselves and everyone around you - in all areas of your health and wellbeing.
All. My. Love.