Feeling Anxious due to the Coronavirus?
Here are some tips and techniques to help.
Many of us, including myself are feeling at the very least unsettled by the changes in our lives due to the Coronavirus. The first thing that I say to myself when I notice this sense of perhaps tension in the body, butterflies in my tummy, a busy mind or just an overall sense of unease is:
“Well, of course that’s how I’m going to feel, I’m a human being and the impact of the virus on all of our lives is unprecedented… it’s ok to be feeling like this, I know I’m not on my own. Now what can I do to look after myself in the best way possible?”
Here are a few reminders, techniques and tools that I find useful to help calm my mind, calm my body and regain perspective:
This too will pass, and more quickly if you don’t resist it.
This unpleasant feeling is all part of being human, it’s quite normal. Fighting against it will prolong and exacerbate it, so see if you can acknowledge the physical sensations in the body and feel them with a soothing, softening and allowing attitude. All emotions are like guests, who will enter into our experience and then leave again if we let them.
Your body is trying to protect you.
Your body has all good intentions and is trying to protect you with the flight/fight system. It’s just a little misguided though, as it will be triggered into flight/fight when you spend time imagining what might happen to yourself and anyone else.
The past and future cannot hurt you in the present.
Leading on from the previous point, see if you can identify what is creating the feeling of anxiety in the body. Typically, the answer will be; engaging in and believing thoughts about the past or the future, particularly “what if….?” thoughts. This is likely to be especially prevalent at the moment and this is normal and understandable, so no need to be frustrated or unkind to yourself.
Spend some time each day practising mindfulness, bringing your attention into the present moment and waking up to your senses. The past and future cannot hurt you in the present moment. Remember, we are not our thoughts and we don’t need to believe them. Most of the time they are unhelpful, so practice noticing them, leave them alone by stepping back and feeling the breath, hearing sound, tasting food/drink, sensing into the body, smell fresh air or cut grass etc.
Worrying will not change the outcome.
Remind yourself that worrying will not change the outcome—never has and never will. Remember the famous quote by the Dalai Lama “why worry about the things you cannot change and why worry about those that you can?”
It can really help to focus on the things that you are grateful for, things that are beautiful and wonderful in your life right now. Do you have a roof over your head, clean water, food warmth, the sun, flowers, a phone or other technology to talk to loved ones. Focus on the many acts of kindness being displayed at the moment across the nation.
What’s worrying you is temporary.
Try very hard to remember that for most situations, including this Coronavirus, they will pass whether you get all stressed out or not. Life will return to whatever we call normal again, because the nature of a virus is that it will pass. How will life be in four months, four years? Try to remind yourself of this as it can help to regain perspective.
You can calm yourself by focusing on your breath.
Give your brain a simple task. Sit and breathe. Stare at a wall. Put yourself in time out if possible and inhale slowly. You are not wasting your time. Thoughts will float into your mind. Let them keep floating. Re-align your spine as you sit. And breathe. Take ten minutes if you can. If you can’t, even a minute is better than nothing.
Sometimes going for a brisk walk, if possible or raising your heartbeat by doing exercise can help to regulate your breathing. Be creative if you can’t leave your house. Use your garden if you have one, stairs, dance around to music and laugh! This can be very therapeutic.
You deserve your own love and compassion.
We can often feel worse by being unkind to ourselves and expecting way too much in such challenging circumstances. So, go easy on yourself, take your time developing a new routine, take one day at a time, ask yourself “what is it that I need right now?” and practice self-compassion or self-care. This will help you to share this sense of kindness and care with everyone else, so if not for yourself, do it for others.
You are not alone.
Remember that you are not alone, we are all in this together, stretching right across the world. This sense of common humanity and interconnectedness can help. If you are living on your own and in isolation, remember to try to speak to someone each day by whatever safe means is possible.