It is completely normal to be experiencing stress and anxiety over these uncertain times. Just because you may be feeling emotional doesn't mean you should allow your emotions to overwhelm you or take control. It's a strange time for all of us and we are all being faced with our own unique challenges. There are however, some tips and techniques that can help everyone to keep themselves in check during lockdown.
Create a flexible routine
Structure and consistency in routine is essential for keeping calm and generating a sense of grounding and normality. If you mope around in your pajamas and stay in bed all day, your mood will dip because it simulates the experience of feeling unwell (whether physically or mentally) and has a psychological effect. Keep busy; keep to good hygiene practices and keep your spaces clean. This will help you keep a clean state of mind as well.
Take time to check-in
It is as important now as ever to check in with how you are feeling. Do body and mind checks throughout the day to help you acknowledge and validate where you're at. There is no wrong or right way to feel - just take the time to notice and allow what needs to be there to be seen.
When you start to feel overwhelmed ask yourself 'what do I need?'
Do you need to reach out to someone in your support system to chat or do you need to take a break from what you are doing? Perhaps you need 5 minutes to yourself or to do a calming breathing exercise. Trust yourself to make the best decision for you and practice self-compassion.
Make time for you
Set time aside in your day to engage in calming activities to ease your nervous system. Breathing exercises, creativity, movement, journaling and meditation are some lovely tools to help you feel relaxed and grounded in time of uncertainty. Insight Timer is an amazing free App which provides new guided meditations daily as well as talks and courses to help you in your mindfulness practice.
Focus on what you can control
There is much that is out of our control right now so focus on what is in your control. At first you may feel like there is nothing that is in your control but I guarantee that if you spend some time thinking on it there will be things that come to mind. Take some time to think of ways you can keep things in perspective and exercise resilience.
Set some expectations and boundaries
If you live with your family or are staying with family during the lockdown and are not accustomed to this then this can be a big adjustment. Take the time to set some ground rules: delegate chores to each family member, which are age appropriate. Set boundaries around personal time and family time and create opportunities for quality time together. If there are irritations which arise, practice confronting these as they occur rather then leaving them and letting things build up to a point of explosion.
You may also need to set some boundaries around sharing COVID-19 content - if a family member or friend is sharing too much you can kindly ask them to stop sending this to you as you would like to control your media intake.
You may also need to set boundaries with yourself (especially if you live alone); with regards to media intake and exposure as well as screen time and social media intake.
Can't access your usual coping mechanisms?
There are many alternative coping mechanisms you can revert to:
You can exercise from home by following home workout videos; write your feelings out in a journal; paint or draw as an outlet; keep in touch with friends and family over the phone; create an upbeat music playlist; listen to podcasts; read books; and look out for 21 day challenges to get involved with. I am running one on my Instagram (@therapy_with_annie) which will follow 21 days of compassion for solidarity.
In case of emergency or emotional overwhelm:
Please don't hesitate to reach out to lean on mental health practitioners. They are all still operating either online or in-person.
For a suicidal Emergency contact SADAG 0800 567 567 alternatively there is a 24hr Helpline 0800 456 789. In the case of abuse at home contact 0800 150 150 and Childline 0800 055 555.
Remember, I'm here to support - if you are interested in putting together a more personalized plan for self-care during this time get in touch and we can set up a once off session to do this specifically.
Keep calm and stay safe!