Coping with COVID-19
It is difficult to go the day without thinking or worrying about COVID-19, and all of the life changes that have resulted from the virus. You cannot escape it. It is everywhere, including on social media, TV, and the web. It is all everyone is talking about. The overwhelming coverage, and nature of this pandemic will most likely have an impact on your mental health. Today’s blog post will address these impacts, as well as discuss ways of coping with the mental health struggles that may arise.
The information related to COVID-19 is rapidly evolving. The fear-response center of your brain may consequently be triggered, leaving you to feel a lack of control, fearful, overwhelmed, disoriented, confused, defeated, uncertain, and physically/financially threatened. These feelings may be compounded by the self-isolation protocol and not having direct connection with others. These feelings are normal. You are not alone.
Looking at things differently
As there exists a potential threat, we have to approach the negative thought patterns differently than usual. We have to decipher the realistic thought patterns from the unrealistic ones. Challenging these unrealistic thought patterns is the next step. Keep a log, and track these thoughts on a daily basis. Next, fact-check the thoughts with evidence-based information. This will promote a more balanced and flexible way of looking at the situation.
It is equally important to keep in mind that this is a public health threat and not an individual threat. The precautionary measures that are in place at the moment are there to ensure that it does not become an individual threat.
A need for control
In these uncertain times, it is normal to feel a lack of control. This is the time to regain a sense of control in other aspects of your life. Using a problem-solving approach, first identify a problem that you are experiencing. Next, identify possible solutions to the problem. Once you have identified possible solutions, implement and evaluate the end results of your chosen solutions. By using the problem-solving approach, you are reducing the negative impacts of the pervasive thought patterns.
We can maintain control over our everyday life by focusing on establishing a healthy daily routine. This may include exercising, maintaining a balanced diet, implementing good sleep hygiene practices, scheduling 10-15 minutes of intentional and quality interaction with others using Facetime/Skype or the phone, limiting media intake and only use reputable sites (e.g., Canada.ca, CBC, Public Health briefings, etc.), finding a new hobby and taking on a new project.
In moments of increased anxiety or panic, relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or meditative exercises can be transformative. It is suggested that these types of techniques and exercises are also practiced in none-heightened states so that your mind and body can better adjust in more anxious moments.
Remember, this situation is temporary. Accept the anxiety, and the bad days that come with it. We are all going through this together. You are not alone.