We are all in this together but are having to do so in isolation and with uncertainty. The impact of COVID-19 is profound but we can take steps to ensure good mental health through this challenging time.
1. Take a moment to think about what you and the rest of humanity are experiencing
Information changes daily about COVID-19 and it can be confusing and confronting. This might make you more anxious and this is understandable. It is helpful to
a. Get accurate information so you can focus on facts, rather than letting your thoughts run riot. Hold your mouse over the words following to go to “ NZ COVID-19 official site “
b. Limit the type and amount of media discussing COVID-19 to a few times a day. Constantly checking social media, reading stories and talking about it is likely to fuel unchecked anxiety
2. Be curious about the thoughts that you have.
a. If you begin to ruminate on particular thoughts, check if they are based on fact or are they a belief that you hold. At a time like this many of us might be thinking “what if…?” Notice that you have these thoughts but rather focus your attention on the present moment
b. Ask yourself how productive these thoughts are and see if you can find something more productive to focus on or do.
3. Be aware that you can control and regulate your emotions and body sensations
a. If you find yourself focusing on particular body sensations, such as whether you have symptoms of COVID-19, take a moment to become more aware of the rest of your body, which is probably quite fine and healthy, and then take time to ground yourself to the present moment by doing the following:
i. Look around wherever you are and name anything that is a particular colour, shape or beginning with a particular letter of the alphabet
ii. Notice what the texture and pressure feels like under your fingers and toes or other parts of your body
iii. Notice what you can taste in your mouth
iv. Notice what sounds you can hear and in this quieter time of COVID-19, listen for the silence beyond the furtherest sound
4. COVID-19 has made us all aware of how uncertain things are. As difficult as it may be, try to take the opportunity to practice accepting uncertainty, even if we are experiencing financial uncertainty.
a. Life is uncertain but this does not mean that we cannot focus on the small things and enjoy the present moment.
b. Being grateful for what we do have, rather than fearing what we might lose or being upset or frustrated about what we don’t presently have isn’t that helpful and it doesn’t change anything. Looking for small moments of joy or gratitude will however make it easier to deal with the impact of COVID-19
5. Take heart that you are contributing to keeping yourself and others safe by practicing physical distancing, washing and drying your hands well and staying home. Most of us have more time and we can now use this to build and strengthen our relationship with ourself and with others.
6. Connect with yourself and others
a. Keep in contact with and share your feelings with people in your bubble or with others by phone and video apps.
b. Exercise regularly as it will help with sleep and is good for your mind and body
c. Try to keep some structure to your days and make sure you have time to rest and relax
d. Keep a healthy diet and limit the use of alcohol and other substances that we sometimes think help us to relieve stress
If you would like an online session, I am available using a variety apps and video conferencing programmes.
Stay well, stay safe and be kind to yourself and others