30 Mar Facing COVID-19 – Coping with the anxiety
COVID-19 has disrupted our lives. Not just disrupted, it has walked in and shattered every fibre of normality we once held onto.
No brunches. No shopping excursions. No playdates. All we knew is now off limits.
It’s completely natural for all of our fears and anxiety to build up during these times, when else have we tried to cope with such a transformation of our lives? In addition to the fear of the uncertainty and anxiety, many of us are not actually safe at home where we must now remain.
We have some excellent resources on our website around not being safe at home right now and we encourage you to have a look when safe. We are all collectively grieving once again. In fact we’ve not really stopped as a nation with the bushfires, the floods, and now this.
We grieve because we are currently living history. We grieve because those we look to cannot assure us the way we need it. We grieve because for some, physical distancing means social isolation. We grieve because for some, physical distancing and social isolation is life threatening. We grieve because our vulnerable loved ones are going to hospital, without anyone to go with, visit, or comfort in any personal way. We grieve because elective surgeries are being cancelled, and our mental health deteriorates as a result.
What are some practical steps to cope with the upheaval of COVID-19?
1. Focus on what you can control and understand your own feelings.
We cannot control what the world is going through. We can’t control the economy. We can’t control the government. What we can control is our own emotions and feelings.
We need to acknowledge the change in our feelings and thoughts. Write down your thoughts, they don’t need to make a lot of sense at first! Just write, and you’ll soon see some flow or themes. Write down a statement to visualise your feelings and embrace this change. If writing is difficult, draw or voice record. It is in the keeping in your head that keeps the tornado spinning.
Once we have externalised the spin, the power and intensity of the tornado decreases. The anxiety lessens, and room for clear and logical thinking may resume. There is now room for clarity and planning, and with that comes a sense of control.
Don’t try to gloss over these feelings and revert to the “she’ll be right” mantra, it’s normal to be anxious. Give yourself time to comprehend and acknowledge.
2. Bring yourself back to reality.
Find ways to ground yourself and bring a sense of control to our own world. Here are
This is an excellent way to centre yourself during moments of anxiety:
- Plant your feet hip-width apart and visualise roots running deep beneath you.
- Inhale, grow tall and strong from your feet through to the crown of your head like a tree trunk.
- Reach your arms out like branches searching for sunlight. Embrace the expansion.
- Relax your arms, close your eyes, and take 3 deep breaths. Let your breath relax and transform you.
- Continue this until you feel the calmness throughout you.
Visualisation of a joyous place
Try this visualization exercise to create a joyful spaciousness within. Imagine yourself in a beautiful place that you love—perhaps it’s a field of wildflowers, a stream, a lush forest, a secret beach, or your favourite place to watch the sunset. Invite all of your senses to imagine yourself there. Look at the different objects and colours. Hear the birds in the trees, the water flowing, feel the sand in between your toes, touch different types of leaves or plants and notice the different textures. Smell the salty ocean, the flowers. The power of the mind is that we can travel back in time to visit a good memory and experience the positive feelings in the present moment.
Create a mantra or affirmation that resonates with you
Consider a few affirming phrases to repeat during these moments. It should be something that rings true to you and can reassure you. For example, “I can manage,” “This will pass,” “There is no emergency,” or “It will all get done.” Experiment with the right mantra for yourself, and repeat it often.
3. Take action that you makes you feel comfortable
Ask yourself, what can I do right now that improves life for myself, my family and my community? This could be as little as stocking up the pantry with homemade tomato sauces, or perhaps talking to a neighbour about support during isolation?
Take actions that give you a sense of reprieve and control, do not fear the size of the action, it’s important to take steps that create a sense of calm in yourself.
4. Seek the help you need
There will be times that we need additional support to help guide us through the complex nature of our, now, upside-down world.
Support can come in many forms ranging from:
- Meditation apps
- Reading books on support
- Joining online forums
- Connecting with friends and family online
- Reviewing the range of online resources by support organisations like Beyond Blue
The Federal Government has also committed to understand that our mental health will be affected during the management of COVID-19, and there are many more support networks being opened up.
At Haven Psychology we provide support through Telehealth appointments which are supported through Medicare.
As we navigate this new world we are now in, we need to re-iterate- be kind to yourself. It’s ok to not be ok. In fact, it’s more normal to not be ok. This is truly a once in a lifetime event and it’s important you find your own support systems to get through.