COPING WITH COVID
Coping with lockdown and preparing for freedom!
For most of us, repeated lockdowns have left us feeling ‘unmoored’ and uneasy. Our usual pre-lockdown daily routines have been disrupted and, considering that most of these routines may have taken years to establish, it is no wonder that establishing new ‘lockdown routines’ can be challenging.
On top of that, many of us are experiencing feelings of isolation and loneliness especially if we are used to having regular physical contact with family and friends. Online get-togethers via Zoom, Skype or FaceTime do not necessarily take the place of real-life activities such as celebrating a birthday or anniversary at home, going to a restaurant or pub, and of course, attending sports events, the theatre or cinema.
Physical contact with others and attending organised activities with family and friends can often give us a sense of belonging and purpose. These types of activities can make us more aware of our strong feelings towards others, remind us of our short- and long-term goals and what we value most in our lives. For many of us, these activities also strengthen our sense of self- they define us to some extent as members of a family, friendship group, interest group or community group. They help us to forge connections with others and feel a part of something ‘bigger’, giving us a sense of purpose to our lives.
Furthermore, although we seem to have so much more time than before, in lockdown, time seems to pass more slowly, and at other times, too quickly. We often lose track of time, and at the end of each day, may feel like we have not achieved anything. The usual psychological markers of time, such as mealtimes, appointment times, school or work start-times, and bedtimes often become blurred or non-existent and our days pass with our activities seeming ‘out of sync’. For example, we may wake up with the intention of doing some exercise but become distracted by watching something on TV or social media, and, because we feel that we have all day to exercise, those distractions can fill our day.
It can also be difficult to establish new ‘lockdown routines’ which may be slightly different to those previous to lockdown. You may find it difficult to change your regular routine but trying to stick to your usual routine may also become stressful. Try to work out your lockdown routines by giving some thought to what is helpful or unhelpful to you at this time.
Below are some tips to help you deal with lockdown and prepare for when these restrictions are lifted. You can use this time in lockdown to develop new coping skills and refine the ones that you have already been using.
Helpful tips in coping with lockdown
Reach out to others. While making new friends may be difficult in lockdown, you can plan how to strengthen your existing relationships. Explore creative and novel ways to connect with family and friends
Get control of your anxiety. Learn how to meditate, challenge your unhelpful thoughts, start an exercise routine, engage in relaxing activates on a daily basis
Practice self-compassion and radical acceptance. This is an unprecedented time, so try not to put yourself down if you feel you are not being as productive as you’d hope some days
Keep your home environment clean, tidy, and comfortable. As we are currently spending a lot of extra time at home, it is important to try and keep our living space clean. Lighting a scented candle, buying some fresh flowers from the supermarket are some other ways in which we can make our home feel safe and comforting
Helpful tips in preparing for freedom!
Challenge yourself to find new meaning and purpose in life. Reflect on what lockdown has taught you
Recognise the self-talk that stops you from trying new things. Be prepared to find enjoyment in novel activities
Set some long-term goals, plan and start some long-term projects. Address what holds you back from working on your dreams and visions
Don’t let anxiety or negative self-talk hold you back. Try out new things despite your anxiety
And of course, if you are experiencing any persistent difficulties in coping with lockdown, see your GP and consult a mental health professional who can work with you to prepare you for ‘life after lockdown’.