The coronavirus pandemic is a complicated and uncertain situation on many levels, and worries and anxieties are a natural reaction. People will respond in a variety of ways, so wherever you fall on the coronavirus emotional spectrum, look after yourself with some of the following tips from the RLA Counselling Team:
Put boundaries around your media consumption.
“We know from a lot of the research that high levels of media exposure, especially when it’s repetitive, tends to be associated with psychological distress,” Dana Rose Garfin, Ph.D
- Set specific times of day to plug into official media channels to stay abreast of the facts.
- Sign up to daily updates from places such as the BBC, or the WHO to prevent time spent trawling the internet.
- Avoid scrolling through social media feeds, where the content can often be more emotionally charged and less reliable.
- Or instead, follow ‘escapism’ accounts on twitter/instagram/facebook to help bring you perspective and distraction. Amazing humans, awesome animals, wholesome memes – whatever floats your boat (rather than sinking it)
Worry is natural during times of uncertainty, but you don’t always have to act on your anxieties. Be aware of your moods and how they’re affecting your behaviour. Use friends and family to challenge your fears with rational thoughts. For example, if you’re feeling nervous about going outside, focus on the facts rather than your fears to help you make the right decision.
Write down all your worries for 10 minutes. Externalising our worries can help us see them in a tangible way. This can make it easier to set them aside so that you can focus on work and relaxation. This also works for children of any age – giving them a space to voice their concerns and ask any questions, before moving on.
Guided meditations and mindfulness can be an excellent family activity. Our thoughts and emotions can be acknowledged and let go of through a variety of apps. Our favourites are: Smiling Mind, Calm and Stop, Breathe Think. Simple Habit just released a series specifically for coping with coronavirus fears.
We’re social beings, stay connected. Anxiety feeds off isolation, so it’ll be important to keep in touch with colleagues, friends and family. This will look different for everyone, and will take more effort than it did before – figure out what works for you and build new habits into your day.
Don’t forget your body. We know that physical activity has a positive impact on our mood, and assists with sleep and routine – so what will work for you during this period? Build some goals into your daily routine with your children – have fun with it, get online, pick some favourite youtube channels, and stick your plan on the fridge to build in some competition.
Make time to enjoy yourself. Board games, podcasts, comedy, karaoke, painting, kitchen dancing, cooking, pampering, reading… the list of ways we can lift our spirits and those around us is endless. Make sure your days are well seasoned with these moments – as much for your own wellbeing, as for the long-term mental health of your developing children.
Remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can with the information available. Not having the answers can be very frustrating and anxiety-inducing! It can be very easy to get caught up in whether we’re doing the right or wrong thing. We don’t have the benefit of hindsight yet – “If you’re following all the available recommendations and making thoughtful decisions, you’re doing the best you can.”
Or if you’re looking for somewhere to feel inspired with new ideas, connect with other parents, share tips and ask questions – check out our new online family hub Smarter Stronger Together. Together we’ve got this!