Corona Virus Lockdown:
Psychological Well-Being Tips
The Covit-19 Lockdown measures will prove a psychological challenge to many of us.
As we know, it is important for our mental and physical well-being to keep up our spirits, as allowing yourself to step in to a state of panic will negatively affect your immune system – and is of course very stressful.
We can get through this together. Crisis is an opportunity for break-through.
Here some initial thoughts. We will also publish this on our Facebook page and look forward to your comments and tips.
In the following, we will look at these questions as a point of departure:
- “What can I expect to happen to me psychologically?”
- “What can I do for my Emotional Well-Being?”
- “How can I support others, given we are asked to not meet up physically/visit those who are more vulnerable?”
“What can I expect to happen to me psychologically?”
Well, we all have different psychologies, different histories, different temperaments which will shape how we experience this situation. Some will be fearful and panic, some will be seeing this as an adventure, some will feel angry at their freedom being taken away, some will be relieved that clear guidelines have been issued at last.
Either way, it will be a challenging time. Difficult feelings will come up. This is normal. And they will pass. Feelings always change.
Ask yourself how you feel when you have to stay in all day waiting for a delivery or hanging in an endless loop on a service provider’s phone line. It is likely that you will feel like this during the lockdown. We will feel helpless, angry, lonely and sad at least some of the time.
It is also likely that some of our childhood demons will come up: How did I feel as a child in my family, with my friends?
If you are self-isolating with your family: How did your family Christmases usually go, when you were all together more time than usual?
There is great potential for conflict here… …as well as for healing.
For those who are not in good general health the current UK advice seems to be to self-isolate for three to four months, potentially. This, for many, is a traumatic thought.
If you are unable to work due to the restrictions, you might also be afraid to lose your livelihood. This, too, is very worrying, but as best you can, try not let your mind to focus on this. Focusing on fears will not help your emotional well-being, understandable as it is (again, more below).Instead, it might be wise to reach out for help (more on this below).
If you live by yourself, you might feel very lonely indeed. Moreover, many Expats report that their friends and family from “back home” tend to forget about them. This is painful – but normal. Sadly, as a species, we commonly display ‘Out of Sight – Out of Mind’, even if we don’t mean to.
It is not personal to you. Try to put it in to context.
Likening this situation to ‘being at war’, as President Macron did, while it sounds extreme and frightening – is perhaps not enterely without sense, psychologically speaking.
But do remember – suicide rates do go down during war-time and community spirit prevails. However, the fact that we are dealing with a virus and are being asked to isolate makes this much harder. Do please reach out by phone or video call to those who are isolated. Should you be afraid at some point that someone is so low that they are at risk of suicide, please contact their GP or call an ambulance.
Last but not least, while it is of course vital to stay informed, try not to follow the news all day long. The constant mention of “Corona Virus” in the media is working like a negative Mantra.
Sounds all very gloomy?
Yes, but remember it will be like this only some of the time – and we are in charge of our emotions.
Some of my clients have already voiced the idea of using this time of fewer outside distractions as a ‘semi retreat’, as a time for reflection, psychological healing, creativity and growth.
“What can I do for my Emotional Well-Being?”
The good news is: LOTS.
One of the most important aspects of good emotional self-care will be to EXERCISE.
Not only will exercise distract you from boredom, it also ‘burns off’ the surplus adrenalin that is induced by stress and fear. It will improve your mood and reduce anxiety. It is also likely to boost your immunity.
If you can (follow the advice of your GP), short bursts of high impact exercise like running on the spot or jumping-jacks (or even circulating your arms vigorously for a minute) for as little as 1-5 minutes, several times a day, should really help to reduce your stress levels.
(Especially if you have undiagnosed/untreated Adult Attention Deficit Disorder).
If you are able to get out of the house in accordance with the current government guidelines to go for a walk (or run, depending on your preferences), this will be very good.
If not, do spend time by the windows in order to boost your Vitamin D and Seratonin levels.
Or just dance along to uplifting music at home…
- ATTEND TO YOUR MIND
First and foremost, do remember that this, too, shall pass. It is not for ever.
When difficult feelings come up and try to overwhelm you, remember these are ‘only’ feelings – and feelings always change (by no means am I meaning to minimise the levels of distress many of us will experience at some point during this time, but remember we can get through this TOGETHER).
With regards to Emotional Resilience, a number of different strategies might be helpful.
Find which ones work for you – and remember that the same strategy will not necessarily work at all times. Build a tool-box.
(I will write more about this on our Facebook Page in the days and weeks to come).
‘When you have Lemons – make Lemonade’
This could be a time to become a better friend to yourself.
Watch your emotions with compassion, with kindness. Perhaps your ‘Inner Critic’ will let rip because they are thinking you are not being producitve. Maybe your ‘Inner Child’ is being triggered and is re-experiencing past traumas. By all means, if this should feel too overwhelming, do reach out to an experienced therapist who works online for support, but also remember that this is ‘normal’ under the circumstances. Sometimes having a good cry or voicing our frustration can be very helpful.
You might want to keep a journal, which helps to process and ground your feelings – or take up drawing/painting if you are a more visual person.
Share with your Loved Ones.
MINDFULNESS/MEDITATION are a great resource as well. There are lots of online courses, apps and podcasts for this. You could learn something new to enrich your life now.
YOGA and PILATES, too, are excellent as they both strengthen and soothe body and mind. Lots of online classes/courses can be found on the web.
Don’t be afraid of your feelings. Just allow them, knowing this is not for ever.
This is very important.
Most people respond well to soothing touch.
Many of my clients have found it soothing to gently brush their hair or massage their scalp. You may also like gently stroking down the back of your head down to the neck repeatedly, soothing your Vega nerve.
A warm bubble bath might be soothing, a shower, singing or humming to yourself, watering your plants, a hot drink, comforting food in moderation, putting on moisturiser all over your body, giving yourself a foot-rub, listening to soothing music or stroking your pet, if you have one, are some ideas here. Please send us some strategies that work for you on FB.
HAVE A PROJECT:
One of my clients said he will take this time at home to declutter his office. Great thought. But be realisitic, don’t put yourself under undue pressure.
You could also learn about ‘Non-violent Communication” with your family, if being isolated together proves challenging (see below).
Schedule “Pleasant Events” – a phone call with a friend, a walk, listening to your favourite music, take an online singing or language lesson or whatever takes your fancy. Think outside the box. You could also start your own online community to chant, read out a play, exercise, have a chess tournament, etc. One of my clients recommended playing “Cards against Humanity” online with one’s friends. Zoom and other providers have created excellent free platforms for meeting online as a group.
If you are spiritual or have a faith, this, too, could be a great source of nourishment.
Give yourself a break.
Experiment with the “Opposite to Emotion” strategy. This suggests that when we feel overwhelmed by sadness, anger, fear or thoughts of self isolation, it is important to not give in to these at times, but to ring a friend, read a funny book, watch a funny film, put on uplifting music, exercise, sing etc.
- How can I support Others?
Much has been said regarding supporting those in poor physical health. This is very important of course, but maybe think about whom you know who might have had a bereavement or a break-up recently, who is new in your neighbourhood or who is depressed or simply might not have anybody to call them.
Acts or service, being loving and kind boosts our own mood – and it is so important to bring a little bit of sparkle to the day of a person in need.
A simple phone call, an email, a text or a smile in the street to a stranger might go a long way…
You could also check: https://voisinssolidaires.fr/
If you or a loved one feel seriously depressed or anxious, please get in touch with your GP.
If you need someone to talk to informally, there are a number of helplines at hand:
If you want to practise learn/practise some new life skills with your family, why not find out about “Non-Violent Communication”?
There is lots out there on the web, here an introductory link to its Founder, Marshall Rosenberg explaining the basics:
For those of you who want to go a bit deeper, I am currently in Love with this book, even though the title might sound a bit off-putting (it is much more compassionate than the title might suggest): Richo, David, ‘How to be an Adult in Relationships: The Five Keys to Mindful Loving’ (Shambala, Boulder, Colorado 2002) also available as Audio Book.
Fun idea, playing “Cards against Humanity” online, here a clip of Ellen de Genres introducing it physically, but you can see how easily it could be adapted:
Last but not least, you can always contact me for Online Counselling sessions. Please follow this link to Counselling Riviera’s Contact Page.