Tips for staying positive during difficult times
A short blog on staying positive in difficult times. There are free resources on my website to support you via the Insight & Resources page. No sign-up required! Stay well.
We are in living in extraordinary times. The recently declared global pandemic that has resulted from the spread of the coronavirus (also know as COVID-19) is affected ever aspect of our lives. Feelings of worry, concern and unease are evident as people try to make sense of what is happening and decide how best to protect themselves and their loved ones. Learning how to manage our stress response is vital before it grips us in a state of severe anxiety and panic.
Fortunately you can act to redress the balance which will enable you to stay positive and maintain a resourceful outlook. It helps to recognise when you are tipped into an automatic pilot of 'fight, flight or freeze' (our brain's emotional response to anything it feels might endanger us). You can help calm a racing mind by naming the emotions that you're experiencing. Then reframe your thinking to depersonalise what you notice. For example, replacing "I feel anxious" with "there's anxiety". Then you can acknowledge the emotion but not become it.
Here are some other tips curated from various sources which I hope you find helpful:
Take control of what you can - make sure that you take sensible precautions and comply with NHS advice to avoid catching and spreading COVID-19.
Learn the facts - constant media coverage can keep us in a heightened state of anxiety. Try to limit related media exposure and instead seek out factual information from reliable sources such as the UK Government website or other trusted organisations such as the World Health Organization.
Stay in touch - we are all dealing with the new realities of social distancing, which is a sensible strategy. However, this can result in the sense of isolation which can breed loneliness and fear. There are ways of maintaining good social connections and staying in touch with neighbours, family and friends. Use the phone, text or make video calls if you can't meet up in person. A good tip from the Campaign to End Loneliness is to create WhatsApp groups to share how you are getting on and ask other people how they are. You might like to handwrite a letter or postcard - the personal touch can show you care and lift spirits.
Keep up a healthy lifestyle by eating a balanced diet, staying hydrated and exercising regularly. It doesn't matter what you do as long as you move your body. Why not take five minutes and enjoy the spontaneity of the moment, by dancing in the kitchen to the sound of your favourite song or singing your heart out in the shower. My favourite is hula hooping to cheesy 90s music.
Get enough rest.Try to get some quality sleep. Practice a short mindful exercise as you relax in bed. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. As you inhale and exhale, say softly or think the words 'nowhere to be, nothing to do, it is time to rest'. Relax your body. Let go of any tension by focusing on the spot and consciously releasing it. Avoid the use of alcohol and other stimulates as these will interfere with your sleep and won't help your immune system stay strong.
Soothe your mind - Try practising relaxation, meditation and mindfulness to give your body a chance to settle and readjust to a calm state. Try 3-4-5 breathing. Just breathe in for three, hold for four then out for five. Repeat three times. This works because when our out-breath is longer than our in-breath, we activate the relaxation part of our nervous system. As Megan McDonogh, co-founder of Wholebeing Institute observes: "When our nervous system is calm, that spreads to others. People' catch' your calm, which is a lot better than 'catching' your anxiety." You might also like to read these tips from Mind, the mental health charity
Spread kindness - be inspired by the #viralkindness campaign started by Becky Wass, a lecturer in Cornwall. Becky has produced a postcard template to pop through a neighbour's door offering support with shopping or a friendly chat by phone should they be self-isolating due to COVID-19. Wass, who was interviewed by Cornwall Live, said: "If just one person feels less lonely or isolated when faced with this pandemic, then I'll feel better for it. Coronavirus is scary. Let's make kindness go viral." Here is a link to the postcard template should you wish to use it.
Show gratitude - it can be hard to remember the good things in life when the news is so grim. Put things in perspective by focusing on what makes you smile and brings you comfort. Remember that showing appreciation to others isn't cancelled and can lift their mood as much as yours.
Don’t forget that there are ample free resources on my website to help you during this difficult time which you can access via the Insight & Resources Page. No sign up required!