Every day we’re hearing about the risk of catching coronavirus, of what may happen if we do and the risks people face in their working lives.
We also know this virus isn’t going to magically disappear overnight and that this risk will be part of our lives for some time to come.
It’s not surprising then that the risk we face may have an impact on our emotions and how we feel, causing anxiety and stress.
“Life has always been uncertain. There has always been risk. But now we’re hearing about the risk of the virus all the time, every day. Everything is focused on the risk of us catching coronavirus,” says our member Jennie Cummings-Knight, a counsellor based in Norfolk.
“In focusing solely on a particular physical risk, we may get that risk out of proportion,” she adds.
“We need to focus just as much on our mental wellbeing as this is inextricably linked with physical health.”
The Government and NHS have highlighted what to do to reduce your risk of catching the virus; such as social distancing and regular hand washing, and there’s advice about wearing face masks too if you can’t social distance.
But how can you adjust to coping with the feelings that this increased risk in our everyday lives brings?
Speaking to a therapist can help you explore and understanding how you’re feeling about this increased risk and help you take control of your feelings about it.
Therapists will work with you to find coping strategies that will help you. You can find a therapist using our Therapist Directory.
Jennie has some suggestions of things that can help here.
Acknowledge your feelings
“It’s important you acknowledge these are very real feelings,” says Jennie. “Given the situation it’s inevitable the risk we’re hearing about will make us feel this way. Recognise this is something you’re going to feel. That will help ground you. The first step is not trying to quieten these emotions.”
Think about what you can control
Some of the risks that you may be worrying about are beyond your control.
So instead, think about the things you can control, recommends Jennie.
Limit news and social media
New and social media is where we’re hearing the most about the risks involved with coronavirus.
“It’s on the news every day. It’s all we hear. It can feel a bit too much,” says Jennie.
She recommends limiting your intake of news and use of social media so you’re not being bombarded with the daily statistics about the risk of the virus.
Don’t look to far ahead
We don’t know what’s going to happen with this virus in the weeks or months ahead, so Jennie recommends trying to concentrate your thinking on more short-term matters.
“Break things down into manageable chunks. Just think about this week, don’t look too far ahead,” she says.
Focus on what you enjoy
“Look at the things you’ve enjoyed doing during the current situation – and keep on doing them,” suggests Jennie.
“It may be that you’ve started an art project while in lockdown. Maybe you’ve made the effort to go out for a daily walk. Then keep these up.
“Put your mind at ease by doing something that works for you mindfully. This can help you overcome fear, panic and anxiety.”
If you have to be in a situation where you feel you may be more at risk, such as on public transport or in a crowded supermarket, try to focus your mind on something else.
“Often it’s that ‘fallow’ period where our mind lingers and stays on one particular scenario that is hard to cope with. Finding something else can really help. For instance, if you’re on a bus on your way to work you may want to read a book to distract you.”
Jennie also recommends colouring books. “I use these with some of my clients. The colouring works as a distraction and can help calm people down.”
Look after yourself
Self-care should always be part of looking after our mental health and wellbeing, whether it’s eating healthily, getting regular exercise and having a good night’s sleep.
Jennie says many people she’s been speaking to have been having disturbed sleep.
She recommends having a good bedtime routine to help you sleep.
“Read a book, rather than look at a screen before you got to bed. Screen’s make us more alert. I’d recommend having two or three books by the side of your bed and then choosing one you feel most like reading. You’re not always in the mood for the same book,” she adds.
Speak to a therapist
If you’re struggling to cope with how you feel about the risks related to coronavirus and these are interfering with your everyday life, you may wish to speak to a counsellor or psychotherapist.
Many of our members are offering sessions online or over the telephone.
They can listen to how you’re feeling, help you to explore and understand what you’re feeling and support you in finding strategies to cope with these emotions and feel better.
To find a therapist who can help you visit our Therapist Directory.
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