Here’s 10 HELPFUL TIPS to help you keep those nerves in check as you follow the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic:
1. Keep it in perspective – the majority of people who have been (or will be) affected by the virus will have a mild impact and recover without medical care. 98% of people will recover. The only deaths we have had in Canada were in long-term care homes for the elderly who had underlying medical vulnerabilities. In China 80% have recovered already. A vaccine is being developed right now. Having said that, we all need to take safety precautions to protect those more vulnerable than ourselves.
2. Stay connected – if you are ill or practicing social distancing, then remain connected virtually to avoid the negative impact of isolation. Host a “virtual brunch” or celebrate a “Virtual Birthday” or Anniversary. Also try to honor the social commitments you may have previously made pre-pandemic. One family in my neighbourhood is practicing SOCIAL DISTANCING done RIGHT. They invited everyone on their street out to their driveways at 5 pm every night to check in. Tonight, they brought tea and wine (and a tablecloth) and yelled across the street. They call it ‘Signs of Life’ and will do this every night and they want it to spread around the community. We are in this together.
3. Disrupt Rumination – Instead of endlessly worrying, take action on the things within your control. Do what you can to be safe, practice good hand-washing, keep your environment clean and practice social distancing. If your worries are beyond your control, disrupt the rumination with mindful activities such as meditation and yoga. I’ve been doing Dr. Rick Hanson’s meditation for Feeling As Safe As You Reasonably Can each day and it’s very grounding. Try it by clicking HERE
4. Rely on FACTS – its easy to fall into opinion-based thoughts during times of stress. Try to avoid one-sided views by keeping your thoughts factual and balanced.
5. Reduce news and social media consumption – Notice how exposure to media coverage impacts your felt sense of safety/threat. While staying informed is important, notice how you are impacted by what you read/watch/ and hear on the news. At a certain threshold of saturation, information often turns into a loop that generates anxiety, which undermines your well-being. Try only checking for updates occasionally, instead of a constant stream of fear coming at you and clogging up your mind.
6. Avoid fatalistic thinking – we are adaptable and our society will be able to adjust.
7. Maintain self-care and healthy habits – we tend to forget these things in times of stress, and it can effect our mood negatively when we do, so make an extra effort to keep them up.
8. Use your coping strategies – now is the time to put them into action. Do what works for you. It can be grounding techniques, visualizations, deep breathing, meditation, exercise, laughter, aromatherapy, etc.
9. Give back – help others when able. There’s lots of vulnerable people in need right now who could use your help, no matter how big or small. And, helping others and giving back has a direct positive effect on our mood and well-being.
10. Talk it out – use your support system(s) and/or talk to your therapist if you are struggling with your mood during this pandemic. Therapists at Mind Health Toronto offers VIRTUAL COUNSELLING via phone and/or secure video platform such as ZOOM for increased safety for those who are symptomatic and/or practicing social distancing. It’s our civic responsibility to slow the pandemic down with social distancing and the practice of good hygiene. Using technology to stay connected -AND at a distance will allow for the provision of necessary patient care while reducing the risks of unnecessary exposure to both patients and the public. Social distancing is the most important thing we can each do right now to flatten the curve.
Remember, if you have traveled abroad (including US), are presenting with symptoms (ie: cough, fever, difficulty breathing) or have been in contact with someone who has presumed or confirmed COVID-19: please stay home, self-isolate yourself, and contact your local public health authority for further guidance.