Covid 19: Are you struggling?
When it comes to the coronavirus pandemic, everyone’s in the same storm – but we’re all in different boats.
Everybody’s circumstances are unique, especially now there are different levels of restrictions in place across the country. People are experiencing a range of difficulties as a result of the ongoing uncertainty, including loneliness due to lack of social contact, the inability to make plans, and worries about jobs and income.
The impact these difficulties have on our lives and our mental health will also vary from person to person – some people will be experiencing anxiety or stress, while others may be feeling down. Whatever you’re currently struggling with, it’s important to remember that your problems and feelings are just as real and as valid as anybody else’s, and it’s worthwhile taking action to address them, or to seek support if you need it.
We may not be able to control the ‘storm’ we find ourselves in, but we do have some control over what we do now. Here are some ways in which we can protect our mental health in the coming weeks.
Keep doing activities you enjoy. Focus on what you can do at the moment, rather than what you can’t. Chances are there are things you loved doing that currently aren’t possible, which can be distressing and make you feel as if there’s nothing to look forward to. Think about what you most valued about those activities, and what you could do instead that would bring you the same benefits – whether that’s social contact, the opportunity to be creative, or a sense of purpose, for example.
Make a short-term plan. It’s true that we’re all in a bit of a limbo, and we can’t plan Christmas or a holiday for next year with any confidence. We can think about what’s possible for us to achieve over the next few weeks, however.
- What’s important to you right now? This could simply be to keep your family safe, or something wider-reaching such as making a difference in your community.
- How do you want to feel when you come out ‘the other side’ of the current situation? Is there anything you want to have achieved?
- What did you learn about yourself when we were in lockdown in the spring? Is there anything you’d like to have done differently?
Next, make a step-by-step plan that will help to move you in the direction of the values or goals you’ve identified as important.
Problem-solve where you can. It’s easy to feel stuck, and to focus on the difficulties. Getting practical and proactive (even if we don’t much feel like it) can help. First, clearly define the problem. Then come up with as many solutions as you can to tackle it, even ones that seem daft and unrealistic! Make a list of pros and cons under each. Finally, pick one – and put an action plan in place. Telling someone else about it can help you stay motivated and on track.
Anchor yourself in the present. Many of us are concerned about the future, which can lead to anxiety and low mood if we dwell on our worries. Mindfulness techniques and breathing exercises can help us to ground ourselves, while sticking to routines and doing familiar things can help us feel safe and secure.
Watch out for unhealthy coping strategies! Be aware if you’ve been drinking more alcohol or ‘comfort eating’, for example, as a way of dealing with your feelings.
Talk to someone – never try to battle on alone if you’re struggling. Family, friends and colleagues will probably be only too happy for you to share how you’re feeling – and do contact your GP if you think you need more support.
If the way you’re feeling is having a negative impact on your day-to-day life, and stopping you from doing the things you need or want to do, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) could help. Online CBT through Ieso allows you to access treatment anywhere and at anytime – find out more here.