6 Tips to help you cope during Covid-19
As we are faced yet again, with another Lockdown in the UK and people around me are faced with so many different challenges from having to work from home, home schooling, shared living space with family members 24/7, redundancy, furlough, loneliness...... and the list goes on. It is no surprise that for some of us our anxiety and stress levels have increased.We are creatures of habit, yet our whole lives have been disrupted as our patterns of behaviour have been forced to change. I feel now more than ever we need to become more resilient and learn how to manage our stress.
Resilience is your ability to face challenges in life while maintaining mental wellbeing. Resilience is something that can be learnt and with practice, you can develop a set of tools you can tap into whenever needed to alleviate the stress, anxiety and worry. Hopefully you will find the following strategies helpful in building your resilience.
Before we start sharing the strategies please note ....You may resist putting them into practice – the strategies are very simple but not easy; changing your thoughts and behaviour can be difficult as you will have to develop new habits and ways of thinking, learning to think and feel differently takes practice. Thinking is a habit, you have carved neural pathways out which are easy to access, even though those negative thoughts and feelings aren’t always helpful. It is going to take more energy to develop a new way of thinking and feeling, so please be patient and kind to yourself, especially when you are at your most vulnerable.
The following strategies have to be practiced deliberately and with intent, which can at times feel uncomfortable and I admit that they are not always easy to do. However, through my own personal challenges and for those I know who have put them into practice, these strategies have helped me and others weather the storm.
- Accepting – what is in your control and out of your control? We can spend lots of wasted energy, with negative thoughts and emotions trying to change things we have no control over. Resilient people understand that tough times are inevitable, in the words of Lucy Hone ‘’ Adversity doesn’t discriminate. If you are alive, you are going to have to deal with some tough times. Knowing this stops you feeling like you have been discriminated, when you are faced with challenging times.
- Tune into the good around you – this is called benefit finding or practicing gratitude. When you’re going through a difficult time, you might need a reminder or permission to feel grateful. On the groups I delivery, we encourage people to do their best to practice finding 3 things that they are grateful for, despite their circumstances, by writing them down or going through them verbally. Practicing gratitude is one of my go to strategies when I go to bed to help get myself off to sleep, especially if I start to worry or get myself in a negative thought cycle.
- Challenge your thoughts – One of the questions I ask clients, and a strategy I practice on a regular basis is, asking myself ‘Is the way I’m thinking and acting helping me or harming me?’ is this helping me get better?, is this helping me find a solution?. This question helps me stop the negative spiral get out of control and helps me take control of my thoughts and emotions, rather than the other way round. Check out Lucy Hone’s TED TALK video on YouTube – resilience strategies, one of the most POWERFUL videos I have watched and use in my courses .
- Reflect on what you have done well – even the little things, focus on what you HAVE done and not what you haven’t. A tip to help you take action, especially when you keep talking yourself out of it; whatever the task is – say to yourself ‘I am just going to do or start this for 3 minutes and pretend I am enjoying it’. It is a strategy I use and one that a number of people have said has worked so well for them, it’s helped them exercise, clean up, tackle that paperwork etc.
- Learn to become your own best friend - Self - compassion requires being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or beating ourselves with self -criticism. Learn to speak kindly to yourself, sooth your pain. Kristin Neff, has researched and written a number of books on Self-Compassion, she is also worth checking out on YouTube too.
- Connect with others – you may not feel like it but reaching out to others can help, there are so many organisations doing good work to help people with their mental health during the pandemic – Mind has many resources you can tap into. Calm and Samaritans are 24 hour helplines, who have trained staff to support you if you need someone to talk to.
Remember that challenges happen to all of us in some way or another, the above strategies won’t stop the hurt and pain but they will help you through the hurt and pain. Do your best to not let your mind get hooked into the negative, and keep asking yourself is this thinking or behaviour helping or harming me.