Wow – 2020 – its been a ride already! And now we have Coronavirus at every turn and corner of our lives. I’m guessing a lot of us around the world are feeling anxious, scared and confused. Some may however be feeling nonplussed and wishing it would all die down.
If you’re in the first camp though, I hope reading this blog today will help you as we navigate these uncertain and very surreal times. It’s got lots of tips and advice in it so grab a cuppa and have a read.
This blog was written before Lockdown but is still hugely relevant now we are in Lockdown, if not more so. There is also a follow up to this blog, which is about why it’s important for our own mental health and wellbeing to avoid making comparisons in how we and others are managing through Lockdown.
Coronavirus is going to be here for a while. But here’s how we all can protect and preserve our minds, bodies and spirits in the meantime. What follows are some of the ways I do this, along with advice I’ve picked up in my reading this past week.
Firstly, and most importantly but maybe least easy is DON’T PANIC! Panic just raises adrenaline and cortisol, which in high levels will just increase and feed anxiety and stress levels; it’s a vicious circle. It puts in you flight or fright mode, neither of which are conducive to navigating and managing what’s happening.
Instead, we need to look at how we go about managing the now and preparing for the future.
The Now – lots of what’s being written and posted on social media is scary. Some of that is based on fact, some of it is based on hypothesis, and some of it is just plain made up. But, all of it is raising anxiety, stress and fear levels in a large proportion of the world’s population. So, we need to work on managing those feelings and fears…….
- Educate and inform yourself and those you care for……
- Choose your fact sources carefully. The NHS or health care provider in your country is a good place to get up to date information, as well as the World Health Organisation (WHO). Fact check things you see online before getting worked up over them, or sharing them on
- If it’s stressing you out, avoid social media. Yes, you may get FOMO, but that will pass but at least your anxieties and fears will stop being fed. Use Whatsapp etc for personal interactions but avoid your news feeds if they’re not helping
- Avoid social or work conversations that are scaremongering or unduly negative. This just whips everyone up in to a frenzy and no one leaves feeling reassured or calm
- Create and action a daily self care plan to include time alone, time with others and time planning……….
- Engage in some activities that are designed to lower stress levels, for example, mindfulness, meditation, EFT (Tapping), yoga. All of these keep our minds balanced and refreshed from stress by lowering cortisol. Even just breathing deeply and calmly whilst counting your breaths will reduce chemical levels and destress you
- Talk to people about how you’re feeling, or write it down. Be honest; you can’t manage fear and anxiety unless you first acknowledge and face them
- Engage in talking therapies such as counselling, or wellbeing coaching – sharing and planning can work wonders in helping us cope
- If you are a carer or parent of children or vulnerable adults, reassure them, let them talk about how they’re feeling, be honest and share any strategies that might help them. We often want to shield our loved ones from bad or sad things but I truly believe they get the best information and care from us, those who love and look out for them
- Indulge in some distractions. Find other things to think and talk about. Craft, read, watch a film – anything that will take your mind off of the world’s problems right now
Preparing and planning – much of our anxiety and stress is about the what ifs of this situation; what if I get it, what if they get it, what if the schools close, what if I cant work? In my experience, creating realistic action plans is a really effective way of managing, planning and feeling prepared. When I do this, and I’m confident in my preparation, much of my anxiety dissipates. So…..who, what, when, where, how?
- Childcare – who can and who can’t help you out if the schools shut or if you’re ill? Have those conversations now with friends and family. Be honest in what you need and be honest in what you can offer.
- Work – find out what your work policies are in respect of Coronavirus as many workplaces are devising Covid-19 specific policies. Can you work from home? Can you work via telephone or video link? Can you job share and arrange child care with co-workers. Be creative and again, have those conversations now
- Contact – Make sure you have the phone numbers and contact details of medical services, neighbours, friends, co-workers etc etc. Get and store them now. And write them down rather than just keeping them in your phone
- Quarantine – Make sure you have batteries available for kid’s toys as well as colouring, craft and even cooking things; any thing that is going to make being at home for a long period of time more manageable and enjoyable! Prepare but don’t over prepare or panic buy. Coronavirus is not Dysentery, you don’t need 245 toilet rolls – just enough for the two weeks will do! Get a few extra tins and things in case you can’t go out but there is no need to prepare for a year in seclusion. Ensure you have means to make calls and keep in touch with people. Ensure you have enough medication for any ailments and conditions you already have, as well as things to reduce the symptoms of Covid-19. But again, no need to overstock.
- Daily routine – plan one for if you have to be quarantined and stick to it as much as possible. Structure is good and helps us keep focused and gives us something to look forward to. If you have kids, put the new routine on the wall and signpost them to it so they don’ drive you barmy with questions!
- For many of us, our main worry is that we or someone else is going to die from Coronavirus. I know we are really bad at talking about severe illness and death in this country, and I hope majority of us don’t get to this stage during this pandemic, but it is really important to have those conversations about hospital plans and wishes, DNRs, Power of Attorneys, insurances, wills and funeral arrangements any way. Talking and planning in a non panicky way can really help to reduce worry and stress about the unknown.
Our bodies are ultimately what gives us life and what will be affected by Covid-19.
So let’s look after them. I know from having Pneumonia several times in 2015 that if my body had been better looked after, I would not have been nearly as ill as I was and my life would not have been at risk in the way that it was then.
In addition to following the advice about hand washing, disposing of tissues, staying away from people if you have symptoms and seeking medical advice and help, looking after our bodies can loosely be done in 4 ways, which combined will stand us in good stead……
- Sleep – getting enough sleep is vital for the upkeep of a healthy immune system to prevent illness, and also to help repair and recover from illness. Sleep is also vital for our capacity to manage stress and anxiety. If we are refreshed we can think and plan better, and we can manage other’s emotions better. Tiredness leads to grumpiness, which leads to fractious relationships and more stress
- Eat – Eating is of course vital to life. But eating healthily and regularly is the key. Lots of vitamin c, minerals and other vitamins. There is a lot of research on the benefit of a combined Vitamin C + Zinc effervescent and it is definitely something that I feel has helped me get through the last two winters, especially as I am prone to chest infections and pneumonia. Raw garlic is also purported to help stave off nasties too. Lots of fruit, veg and good carbs and protein will all help to keep your body well and fit. And the healthier you are, the better off you will be, ether in not catching the virus in the first place, or if you do get it, in recovering fully and quickly
- Drink – WATER. WATER. WATER. Keep hydrated. Tea, coffee, fizz, squash etc are okay but plain WATER is the key to good hydration. It flushes toxins out of our systems and aids oxygen to move around the body. It keeps our minds sharp and our bodies energetic and ready to fight. Some experts are even mooting that keeping our lips and mouths wet and drinking will flush the virus down in to our guts to be killed off. Water. Yes, it can be boring and tasteless so add some fruit or cucumber. Squash is okay once a day but water is what you need. And reduce alcohol intake. Alcohol is both a depressant and causes dehydration.
- Move – this can be by way of formal exercise form such as running, cycling, weights and cardio for example, but it can also be walking, dancing, having a jiggle in your chair and yes, even sex! Not only does moving keep you supple and fit, it also helps oxygen move around the body, keeps your heart and other organs thriving and keeps you occupied. It’s also a great natural way to reduce harmful stress hormones and chemicals in your body.
In lots of ways all the tips in the MIND and BODY sections of this blog will raise your spirits and feed your soul. So let’s talk community spirit…..
- Laugh, have fun, share jokes. Don’t share anything that could cause offence or be seen as disrespectful to the current situation or those who have Covid-19, but don’t shy away from being free with humour and good cheer.
- Let’s inform rather than scaremonger, If you haven’t fact checked it, don’t share it. If it’s not going to do anything but raise anxieties, don’t share it, or if you do, share a solution too
- Let’s stop panic buying. Not only does it just fire more panic within ourselves, it actually increases the feelings within others that they need to panic buy too. All panic buying does is feed fears and reduce or in some cases, completely eradicate resources. Panic buying doesn’t ensure survival of the fittest, it just ensures selfishness and actually prevents those who need food, medications and other supplies from accessing it. It also increases prices for all of us
- Let’s look out for one another. Check in on your family, friends and neighbours, call people if you’ve not heard from them. Ask people how they are, mean it and give them a chance to respond
- Contribute to food banks with food and toiletries, get involved in community activities where safe, and volunteer your time if you can
- Be kind – to yourself and to others.
- Don’t cancel events or plans unless it’s necessary too. Business, especially small ones, are already being affected by people’s fear leading them to cancel contracts and plans, and this is affecting incomes and job stability. Sometimes this will be necessary, but please let your actions be informed and relevant
- Socialise but follow advice and be there for each other in a way that isn’t just about Coronavirus – together we can face, manage and overcome this thing.
And above all, take care and keep well
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If you’d like more information on anything I’ve discussed here, or some support as you navigate and manage Coronavirus and your response to it, please feel free to contact me on 07523830377 or email firstname.lastname@example.org