coping covid crisis

How I’m coping with the Covid crisis (Ep#54)

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with Rachael Jansen

I find it’s always useful and comforting to know that other people are feeling the same as you are when times are tough or you’re struggling.

If ever there was a time when people are struggling on an epic scale, it’s right now as we face the global coronavirus pandemic.

I know lots of us are feeling all the feelings – it’s a rollercoaster ride of anxiety and fear, and trying to find an equilibrium where we feel a little in control of what’s happening.

So I recorded this episode of the podcast to share with you how I’m coping with all of that. How I’m dealing with the daily feelings, the uncertainty, the change of circumstance and what strategies I’m using to stay grounded as much as I can.

I’m no expert – and perhaps that’s why you might find it useful: because I’m not. I’m just like you, doing the best I can.

These are the main strategies I’m using:

Permission to feel the feels and cry if need be

This is stressful. Worrying about your kids, your parents, your job and income, your friends and community – it’s a bloody lot. Working mothers are used to carrying a heavy mental and emotional load but this is next level. So if it all feels too much it’s OK to take a moment and have a little cry if you want to.

Stay in the moment

When thoughts head off in to the unknown and the fear and panic creeps in, I come back to the moment I’m actually in. Mindfulness is a great anti-stress technique if you practice it. Look around you in the moment that you’re in and pay attention to just that moment. The sky, the sun shining, the sounds around you, the sensations of that moment only. Remind yourself that in that very moment, you’re OK.

Recently when pressure started to creep over me, I was in the process of washing my hands after returning home from the shops. So I practiced taking deep breaths and concentrating on the hand washing – the smell of the soap, the actions I was taking to wash properly, the feel and sound of the water, all the while taking slow, deep breaths. The stress and panic dissipated.

Focus on just the next thing

Everyone’s trying to second guess and anticipate what happens next in this situation and yet the brutal truth is we don’t really know. That space of the unknown is where fear resides. Trying to plan ahead for every contingency is stressful, so I try to focus on just the next thing. What is the next thing I need to do, when does it need to be done? What does today look like and what does today require?

Do what you can do

While you’re staying in the moment, and focusing on the next thing, do what you can. I use this concept whenever I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed about something I can’t control, and this situation is certainly presenting plenty of opportunities to practice this. I ask: “What can I do?”

In this situation, it’s that I can cook healthy meals and see that the household is consuming the healthiest options possible. It means I can be more committed to taking immune-boosting vitamins and supplements. I can stay at home more. I can have the kids home without major interruption. I can ensure hygiene and practice social distancing. I can support our local small businesses by continuing to purchase through them and also promote them online. I can continue to work and look at new ideas and services. I can try to help others – both online and in real life. I can keep in touch with family. I can make financial contingency plans.

When I do this process, I can see there are actually many things I can do, and I’m not completely helpless in this situation, and that reduces my anxiety.

Be productive

Focusing on work or business or a project or even chores often takes our mind off the ‘what if’s’. We’re instead focused on the task at hand and it gives our nervous system a break (unless of course you’re in the frontline of medical services and I imagine the task at hand is stressful and all-consuming). It’s too easy to keep thinking about all we’re missing out on right now – the cancellations, the possible isolation and bigger losses – and that breeds all the negative feelings.

But focusing on being productive – especially when you work from home and it’s easy to be distracted by aaaaallll the things – has the opposite effect. It entertains our brain in a good way and we get things done.

Take a breath

Deep breathing switches off your body’s internal stress response. This is the single most simple and effective thing I believe you can do for your wellbeing and to de-stress. You can calm your mind and body by taking deep breaths – inhale slowly, hold briefly, exhale slowly. Repeat. Close your eyes (if you’re not driving) and feel your body relax.

 

This is a life-altering moment for the entire world. But on a day-to-day level, it’s life-altering for every one of us as individuals. All we can do is do our best.

Stay well, and all the best to you and your family.

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