We are in uncertain, challenging unchartered waters for sure, and as I see it there are certain facts that could offer some comfort:
- We are all in this together, Covid19 the most micro of micro-critters has united us all!
- The only sure thing is that it will pass, and like a hurricane rips through an area and leaves devastation, we will rebuild, recover and move on. Humans are immensely resilient.
- Times like this reveal a sense of community, connecting with people in your street and many acts of kindness, and heart-warming stories.
- This is a huge opportunity for reflection and to re-evaluate how we live, what’s important to us and to be valued and how we do business. For example, as human activity has ceased across the world, wildlife has flourished!
- From adversity can come amazing creativity and inventiveness, with new and exciting ways to do things and of course, in the right context – humour, which we may need more than ever.
- Some people will be having unscheduled unique time with family, young children especially will relish having family at home. *On that note, do spare a thought for those key workers, working around the clock to keep things going and looking after those who are ill and vulnerable, and those people living alone.
Anxiety and Stress
If you are feeling anxious, stressed, worried, uncertain or frightened at the moment, or anxiety levels are worse than normal, you are definitely not alone.
It is OK to not feel OK, to feel the way you are feeling, most especially in such unprecedented times. What is important is how you deal with how you are feeling, to reduce stress and anxiety in the best way possible for you, and to improve your overall wellbeing. *There are links at the end of the article
Stress is a reaction to feeling threatened and under pressure, so we can get things done and find solutions. Undue and prolonged stress, with no solutions being found, compromises our health.
Anxiety is a natural response to protect us from threats to our safety.
Our body reacts to get us ready to respond and Fight Fright (freeze) or Flight (run). Which can make our heart pound in our chest and beat much faster, making our breathing quicker. We can also feel sick and sweaty too.
When we are worried that something might happen or happen again (if we have had a negative experience) or have feelings of uncertainty and feeling like we have lost control, our body will respond in the same way to the possible threat, as though it was a real threat. We can then feel anxious as our heart pounds… which leaves us feeling worried, anxious, uncertain and out of control. When this keeps happening, we are then said to be ‘suffering with anxiety’ and then the Flight or ‘run’ response can turn into ‘avoid altogether’
To reassure anyone who feels like this, you are not doing this on purpose, but the important thing now is what to do about it.
During times of real uncertainty like we have at the moment, here are some tips and advice for you:
- Firstly, your feelings do matter, and if you are really struggling, with self-isolating and social distancing, then do reach out to others. Acknowledge how you feel and try some of the tips to follow and use the links or numbers at the end of this article.
- Concentrate on what you CAN control, day to day, and literally ground yourself in each day, and deal with what you can do. Covid19 itself is out of your control. All we can do is put the measures in place to try the best we can to limit the effects, protect the most vulnerable and prevent a sharp peak. Most people will suffer mild symptoms.
- If your anxiety soars and you feel like you are panicking, tap several times below your collarbone, relatively hard and sing a nursery rhyme. Go back to the things you are in control of, even if this means cleaning out a cupboard, going for a walk around the block or turning up the music.
- Stay connected with friends, family and colleagues, school, college or Uni friends – ringing or video calling is great, to really feel connected. Ring someone you haven’t spoken to in a while or send an uplifting card. Meet up in small numbers (2 – 3) in the fresh air, maintaining a safe distance, and no hugging, shaking hands or sharing personal items – this will change once time has passed, it is in place to protect those people in society that are the most vulnerable to being seriously ill due to Covid19, that may not be you, but we are in this together, to protect each other.
- Help or connect with someone in your neighbourhood that could be isolated, go about this safely and wisely and never put yourself at risk – there are some good groups already to be a part of. *Do authenticate any group.
- Join supportive practical uplifting groups through social media or set up your own ‘virtual’ meet-up over coffee, or just to chat.
- It is best to stick to the facts we have right now. Only update these facts from absolute reliable sources. So, avoid the scaremongering on social media, with people’s opinions that can be skewed and limit your time on various platforms, unless supportive.
- For business or finance matters Gov.uk, local authorities and councils will have details, as will great organisations like FSB, Chamber of commerce and other local business networking connections and your bank. Do remember, things are changing daily, but will come clearer. This is very new for all of us.
- Have a routine – I can’t recommend this highly enough, most especially for those people not used to working from home or being at home with no work or school to go to presently. Stick to schedule of when you get up, have breakfast, exercise, do work, connect with people in whatever way you can, and go to bed. This schedule doesn’t have to be strict, so allow some flexibility and time to relax.
- For those of you who are homeworking, and worried about your businesses and jobs. Do keep an eye on what is available for you, as mentioned above. Think of ways you can stay in touch with your clients / audience. Can you write a blog, do a video to give tips to others or create things for people to participate in online in real time? This is where as businesses we may have to think of different ways to operate and diversify part of how or what we deliver.
- Get plenty of sleep – Sleep is essential to your overall wellbeing. Have a night-time, wind-down routine. Limit screen time, have a warm bath, adding lavender can help, as can having a warm milky drink, limit alcohol and caffeine. Try to keep your bedroom cool and well ventilated to promote a good sleep. If you struggle to sleep or wake up – don’t look at the time if possible, take slow breaths and start counting down from 300 slowly and keep bringing your mind back to the numbers – you will soon drop off again.
- Stay nourished and hydrated drink plenty of water, it keeps your mind clear and helps clear toxins from your body. During these times we are all more aware of food availability, which is not a bad thing, eat a varied diet and food that fills you up properly, so you avoid the need to snack, and if you do snack try to choose the healthier options you have available to you, as this maintains a good sugar level, enhancing mood and promoting a healthy immune system, which helps us to fight illness.
- Exercise in whatever way you can; take a walk in the fresh air – nature is very grounding; it continues regardless and gives us a good sense of things moving forward still and helps balance our mental health. Maybe arrange to meet others outside – at a distance, to exercise. Get in your garden if you have one, plant some seeds – something to look forward to, why not grow your own veg? Dust off the interactive games’ consoles! Do yoga or pilates, or dance and move to music. Look out for the many people offering great workout videos on-line, start locally first – to help you keep connected with people in your local area.
- Practice mindfulness and relaxation – great for reducing stress and anxiety. Take in a deep slow breath for the count of 4, hold for 3, breath out for the count of 4, do two more times. Again, look out for all the people in your area offering on-line sessions to follow. Like the exercise above, most people are doing this for free and there are also special workouts for children too. Give yourself distraction free time to relax.
- Take Time Out recognise when you, or the people you are with need quiet time, and ‘time out’ – you don’t need to schedule your every moment, or entertain children constantly, and it is more than ok during these times of isolation to have guilt free time to watch films, binge on a series, read a book, take a nap…and just have some quiet.
- Music is a powerful uplifting mood changer and helps us to be creative and gets us moving. Get those tunes on, children love to dance and sing. How about pulling out archived music! Many DJ’s around the country are doing live ‘club’ sessions for people to join in on during these times of social distancing.
- Do puzzles, a jigsaw, pull out the lego, play games, knit, sew, paint, decorate, de-clutter, try a new recipe, bake, feed the birds or learn something new. Watch comedy and do try to have some laughter and fun.
- Finish that task you’ve been meaning to do! We all have something that has been put to one side, for when we have the time!
- Practice GRATITUDE – 3 good things a day – especially when you feel worried or uncertain, you may not feel like doing this, however this really grounds you in the now, and helps you to look around at what you do have, who you appreciate, maybe the new connections you’ve made. Remember good things will also come out of this crisis, and gratitude helps you through tough times too, and loss, as you reflect on happy memories, or things that have made you smile and laugh today. You can do this with children too – maybe get them to write down things on strips of paper and put them in a jar, to read at a later date.
- Write down negative or angry thoughts that whizz around your head, then delight in ripping them up or shredding them – this is a powerful exercise to get thoughts out of your head without hurting anyone.
I really hope this has been of help to you. Above all – do get the support you need if you feel particularly anxious, stay connected with friends and family – or reach out to organisations that can help.
SAMARITANS free phone – 116 123