Daily life has changed significantly; Coronavirus is altering many aspects of our lives.
A pandemic is a situation that most of us have not given much thought, let alone had any experience. Generally, we have had no preparation practically, physically, mentally, or emotionally for such a profound change in our daily lives and to our relationships.
Events have been cancelled, gatherings banned, school is out. Many of us are working from home, bringing new stressors and challenges. For many on the front lines, work-life has become much more stressful, traumatic for some. Some have lost their jobs or income and feeling very uncertain around finances. Many are currently separated from loved ones. Some of us are ill or caring for those who are not well. We may be stuck living with those who we find challenging or even unsafe.
What Can We Do To Get Through?
As populations, we are practising social distancing, and many are in social isolation. Our worlds have become very small, putting a lot of pressure on many couples, families and other relationships. It feels counterintuitive for many of us to keep our distance from each other when feeling so overwhelmed and maybe afraid. It is a lot for our nervous systems to process.
At times like these, our brains can become overwhelmed and hypervigilant trying to manage all the incoming information and filter through it. The key is to understand our unique signs of emotional distress and to cultivate coping strategies that help us feel more in control of what we can influence and help develop a level of acceptance for the things we cannot.
Typically Signs of Emotional Distress
• Changes in sleep or eating patterns
• Difficulty concentrating and anxious thinking
• Worsening of chronic health problems
• Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs
• Restlessness and irritability or numbing and withdrawing
Some Coping Strategies To Deal With Stress and Anxiety Caused By Coronavirus.
With our current situation changing rapidly, the mind often does not have a chance to recover. It is likely operating on overdrive, adding to exhaustion and overwhelm. With strategies to regulate emotions and calm down responses, the brain can more easily sort through the overwhelm. It is important to remember that we are doing the best we can under the current circumstances.
1. Limit Media Consumption
Hearing the media spreading panic is not helpful for anyone. It is essential to put limits on your exposure to news and social media. Do research, keeping an eye on your sources to uncover facts from fiction.
2. Nurture Your Body and Spirit
Be sure to get outside for some fresh air and go for a walk. Eat right and make sure to stay hydrated and get plenty of sleep. Avoid consuming too much alcohol and try to find fun, safe ways to connect with those you love.
3. Tap Into Your Sense of Fun
If you have kids, look to them for some good old-fashioned playtime. Play hide and seek in the house. Create an obstacle course in the back yard. Watch movies or those You-Tube videos that make you giggle. Laughter helps our nervous system to calm down; it is a tonic.
4. Support Your Local Community
Check-in with neighbours to see whether they are in need. Reaching out could be a life-line for someone alone and will give you a great sense of purpose and well-being.
Many local businesses are hurting right now. If you are still getting a paycheck, consider buying a gift card from a local restaurant, gym, hair salon etc. to give them revenue at this time.
5. Be a Role Model
Remember, your kids will always look to you first to see how they should be thinking and feeling about something. So move about each day as calmly and confidently as possible, reassuring your kids that everything will be ok, because it will be.
6. Use Your Time Constructively
For many of us, there is a silver lining in this situation in the form of extra time. What can you do with the spare time that isn’t being used to drive an hour into work? Focus on using this time wisely.
Maybe you have an ever-growing list of home projects that you just have never had time to tackle. This is the time to address them; you will feel great about having completed these tasks later.
7. Give Each Other Grace and Space
Relationships will experience a new level of pressure during this period of lockdown. It is easy to get irritated by one another in such conditions. Try to carve out five minutes together, after kids have gone to bed to check-in. Allow each other to speak for five mins without interruption.
It is important to remember that you do not have to agree with one another. Instead try to focus on understanding the pressures that both of you are under and that under such pressure, it is easy to get impatient, irritated, sulky, dismissive etc.
8. Cultivation of Self-Compassion
It is very important to remember that we are doing the best we can under the current circumstances. This is the time to give ourselves a break. So much is out of our control. Gently reminding ourselves of this on a regular basis can be very helpful.
If you find yourself struggling during this time, I encourage you to connect with me. Speaking with a counsellor can help you cope with the current situation and navigate the days ahead. I offer a free phone consultation.