We’ve all seen the popular message going around - How are we celebrating the 1 year anniversary of our 14 day lockdown to flatten the curve…! The month will be filled with social media reminders and memories of the first day of Lockdown from 2020; photos of empty shelves and stories of hoarding toilet paper and pasta amidst other things.
While that time might seem like it was eons ago, we have gotten through 1 year of lockdown. Despite the sacrifices we made by staying home, not seeing the ones we love, converting our counters into work stations and more recently, the photos of people getting the vaccine, we don’t have a end date to the pandemic as yet. Countries are either moving in and out of lockdown or looking to return back to what will be the ‘new normal’. Through this time what hasn’t changed and will continue to persist for the near future is the sense of uncertainty which prevails. We humans are not designed to cope with uncertainty as we find it threatening and unnerving but the Covid-19 has tried to make us attune ourselves to it. While many have developed their coping mechanisms to keep up with it, some are still having a hard time to stay afloat. This piece will share some tips which can be helpful to help us cope in the days to come.
Make yourself a Priority
It is important to make yourself a priority and be gentle to yourself. These are rough times and its important to be kind, patient and gentle with yourself. You are not required to be occupied or busy for all the hours of everyday. Take care of yourself and find time for self-care as well. There are days when you can try to do small things such as taking a bath or reading, and those are enough too. Try to seek for something that interests you and do that on regular basis.
Build yourself a Routine
In this quest to keep up with everyone around us, we may find ourselves pushing ourselves to be busy all the time and may start comparing our achievements through the lockdown to that of others. In this quest, remember that being busy is not the same as being productive. It can help to build yourself a routine so that you can balance your personal and professional life. It is also important to prioritise your sleep and exercise to remain healthy. Sleep is extremely critical and vital to help take care of our Mental Health and to help us keep our minds fresh. When it comes to exercise, it can help to find some ways to move your body; you can start exercising indoors or put a mask and go outdoors. Exercise can help us stay fit and also help beat stress.
Take time to Relax
You do not have to be occupied all the time. Do not overburden yourself with tasks to do; instead, set reasonable deadlines and try to achieve them. Reward yourself for your small achievements as well. Sometimes it’s nice to take a break and do nothing but relax and breathe. Set aside some quiet time for yourself where you can do something that you find calming, soothing and relaxing. Activities such as yoga and meditation are very beneficial in case you feel overwhelmed or anxious. You can also try deep breathing exercises, progressive relaxation or use sleep stories to unwind if that is something which helps you.
Watch your thoughts
Our thoughts are more powerful than we think and they can transform our realities. In these difficult times, it is very easy to focus on the negatives and get stressed. Instead, try and distance the negative thoughts and focus on the positive aspects of your life if you find yourself being caught in a downward spiral. Consider keeping a gratitude journal and list down things you are grateful for, but don’t force yourself into that feeling. Another thing which can be helpful is to try a positive thought every morning when you wake up. For instance, saying things like “I got this!” or “It’s not that bad” to yourself can make you feel better or just help you get through tough moments. Think of it as a mini pep talk that you give yourself. Visualisation techniques and stopping our negative thoughts in their tracks can also be very helpful.
Focus on the ‘Now’
Life can be extremely hard and challenging right now and while everything seems uncertain, what can help is to focus on the things we can control as opposed to what we cannot. Focus on the present moment and do your best with what you have today. Mindfulness activities are a good way of bringing your mind back to the present moment. By focusing on things which are certain, we can try focus on the little things and those which can help us stay in the present moment. By focusing on certainties, we can help have some hope. It can also help to try and record the good things as they happen as it can help us be more appreciative. Learning to embrace the uncertain and unprecedented routine can help us cope with these times and avoid disappointment when things don’t go as per plan,
During hard times, we may find ourselves retreating into our shell and being tempted to isolate ourselves from others. Remember that in whatever you’re feeling, you are not alone in this. Please reach out to people you can confide in or talk to a helpline or professional if you find yourself finding a hard time. It can also help to build a support circle, stay connected and check in with each other. You may also turn to social media to remain connected. Having a support circle can be really helpful as we all try to navigate through these times. By talking to those we can confide in about how we feel it can help us to let off some steam and cope better with heavy emotions as we don’t have to face them alone.
Set Healthy Boundaries
The pandemic has led to a lot of pressure on us in so many ways in all the roles that we play. It is important to have boundaries to take care of ourselves and our Mental Health. Boundaries are also vital to help prevent burnout. You are allowed to take a break and feel exhausted, you are allowed to take a step back when overwhelmed. Another thing which also helps is have digital boundaries with social media, screen time and news consumption, especially now. As much of our lives have quickly shifted into the digital space, including work and school activities as well as socializing, finding balance is key. Think about the content you are consuming and how that is impacting you - if you find the news to be very upsetting or negative to cope with, it is ok to disconnect and opt for a digital detox from time to time.
Embrace your emotions
It helps to embrace your emotions and feel your feelings as they are. Know that no matter what you are feeling right now, your feelings are meaningful and valid. It is important to honour our emotions and not belittle ourselves for them. We may not feel grateful every day and some days may feel extremely hard to cope with, and that’s ok too. You don’t need to be positive all the time or be whipping up Dologona Coffees, making Banana bread or doing the latest challenges on Social Media just because others are. Focus on your emotions, sit down with them and listen to what they are trying to tell you.
Unprecedented is the word we seem to be reaching for most when describing the Covid-19 crisis and when reflecting on the year that has been. While these are some tips which can help us coping with the uncertainty as we go ahead, it can help to remember that while we are all going through the same storm at the moment, we are all not in the same boat; Some of us are going through this crisis in boats, canoes, yachts or ships, but that doesn’t mean we need to compare our experiences. Each one of us is having our own troubles and are coping with it as best we can with our available resources. No matter what you are going through, know that you are not alone in this journey. While times might be tough, always hold on to that hope that with each passing day, we are closer to things being back to as they were. As they say, it might be stormy now, but it can’t rain forever.
Written by: Vedica Podar
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