The pandemic is having a considerable effect on many people in different ways, whether physically, financially or emotionally. The situation piles stress and worry on top of pre-existing difficulties and challenges in our lives, and not being able to escape from the harrowing news and fear of uncertainty can be a dangerous tipping point.
Here are 10 ways to take a step back and manage the overwhelm:
Nourish Your Connections
The need for connections is part of the human condition, and the build up of stress during times like this needs a way out. While it may be hard to see people face to face, technology can bring you closer to friends and family. Have a chat about the weather or have a deep and meaningful conversation, whatever you feel comfortable with. If you don’t have people in your offline life, then don’t forget that online relationships and acquaintances count, too. Keep in touch with phone calls, WhatsApp and video chats, or reach out to others on Facebook groups and forums. If you need professional help, please do seek it because you shouldn’t feel that you have to do this alone.
Declutter Your Mind
There are a few things you can try when it comes to clearing your head and decluttering your mind. Exercise can boost endorphins and leave you feeling mentally refreshed, and breathing techniques can be soothing and energising. Yoga, meditation and mindfulness are popular for a reason, because they can provide a range of benefits to mental and physical health. You can go at your own pace, or use self-help books, apps and online tutorials to guide you. What’s also great is that you can do a long or short session as regularly or not as you like, whatever fits with your lifestyle. Mindfulness is something you can gradually build into daily life, so just a few moments here and there will add up. Slow down and let your thoughts roam free without judgement. Bring yourself into the present and focus on the now, appreciating the small things and gradually letting go of the things you can’t control as you feel the tension easing from your body.
Make Your Voice Heard
I’m not talking about a run or sweating it out on the elliptical. With so many decisions out of our hands, especially where coronavirus developments and restrictions are concerned, we can start to feel helpless. The same goes for other issues in the world, like racism, rioting and criminal violence. The lack of control and helplessness can cause a host of emotions to bubble up, with us becoming increasingly worried, angry, frustrated and so on. If you’re passionate about something, be involved in some way, no matter how small, to give yourself that sense of achievement and inclusion. Make your voice heard by writing to your local MP, Tweeting about it or signing online petitions.
Deal In Distractions
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you might find distractions surprisingly beneficial. For those with chronic pain or illness, distractions can be part of a routine to provide a little respite throughout the days. Try to put the situation and your thoughts to one side, switch off and lose yourself in something you enjoy, or at least something that can engage you, whether it’s for a few hours or ten minutes. It could be a TV series, gardening, jigsaw and crossword puzzles or anything else that allows you re-calibrate for a short time.
Step Back & Switch Off
It’s important to stay up to date on the goings on in the world, especially around the ever-evolving government coronavirus guidelines, but there comes a point where helpful becomes stressful and unhealthy. If it’s all getting a bit overwhelming with the continual bombardment of news stories, statistics and opinions, then reduce your news intake and limit your social media time, setting yourself limits for both if need be.
Make Room For Smiles
What makes you smile and brings a sense of joy? What things do you enjoy doing? Make sure you pencil in time for these things. If you need quick pick-me-ups, look for memes, cute photos, jokes or funny videos online. A genuine smile and some laughter therapy are priceless when it comes to easing the tension.
Be Proactive In Your Virus Efforts
While you can’t control how others behave or what the government decides in their briefings, you can be proactive in your own efforts when it comes to protecting you and your family. We all play a part in the fight to curb the coronavirus. Be proactive in setting up cleaning routines at home and if you go out. Make sure you’ve got all the products you need for household cleaning as well as personal hygiene and protection like hand washes, antibacterial sprays, face masks and sanitising gels. We can’t 100% guarantee protection against the virus for ourselves and our families, only living in a bubble in space would probably guarantee that, so we can only do our best. Proactively doing all that you reasonably can may help you feel a bit more in control and confident during these times of uncertainty.
Invest In Your Environment
In tandem with taking back some control with the issues you’re passionate about and being proactive with virus protection, you might want to think about the changes you can make to your environment. The saying “a tidy house, a tidy mind” holds some truth for many of us, and issues around cleanliness during the pandemic can also be triggering for those with OCD. Try to invest the time into ensuring your home environment is tidy, warm, welcoming and comfortable. The process of cleaning and decluttering can be therapeutic and the end result should be a sense of achievement. Try to keep on top of nurturing your home so you don’t end up with the tasks piling up and becoming unmanageable, causing more stress.
Prioritise Self Care
Self-care often drops down our list of priorities when we need it the most. Think about the both smaller, more superficial aspects, and those bigger, more meaningful elements of self care. They all add up when showing yourself that you matter and that you’re worth it. Ensure your basic needs are met and indulge yourself a little. Nourish your body with good food, take some me-time, do the things you enjoy, moisturise, take care of your dental hygiene, do some ‘pampering’. Say ‘no’ and be assertive when required, stand up for yourself, ask for help, and kick that critical inner voice to the curb.
Find Solace In Nature
The beautiful outdoors can refresh, calm, rejuvenate and energise, with a range of benefits to our mental health. This may not be as easy during the pandemic, so only go outside if you can and it’s safe to, preferably if you have a garden where you can enjoy the fresh air. Slow down and find joy in the flowers, the grass, the birds and insects. Connect to the natural environment and let it ground you as you start to appreciate that you’re part of something bigger. Spending time with a pet can also be uplifting, easing a little tension and adding to our feeling of connectedness.
The mental health impact of uncertainty, fear and stress in the world at large shouldn’t be underestimated. Try to take steps to reduce the stress, to reach out and to give yourself time to breathe.
Caz blogs at InvisiblyMe (www.invisiblyme.com)
Twitter – https://twitter.com/invisiblymeblog