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Facing the turmoil of COVID19 by Hope Virgo
Posted by SANE
7th Apr 2020

It is everywhere we look, social media, the news, leaflets and posters all over supermarkets. There is absolutely no hiding from it! And it can feel absolutely terrifying.

This constant change and such an intense pace moving day in day out. The reality of it all is the fear or knowing what to feel. The guilt around emotions perhaps…

Do you know what?

Despite that extremely negative summary of life as we see it… there is things you can do to help alleviate the stress and uncertainty. None of us are alone in how we are feeling, we are all learning to navigate this together.

I felt the extreme fear when it kicked off, I felt restless, unsure and terrified financially. Being a freelancer I watched my work begin to be postponed or cancelled. I was worried about it, but then felt guilty for being worried. It created this rather weird circle for me of emotion. The truth is none of us really know how to feel in this time and do you know what? That is okay! We all need to grieve at our own pace and we need to remember that we are feeling is valid.

To accompany all these realisations, I had I knew I had to come up with some more concrete ways to deal with the isolation. For me this involved:

Have a routine; this for me was crucial. When I was growing up I struggling with anorexia for much of my teens and ever since being in recovery I have had to mindful of making sure I am having enough food in the day. This means that routine is really important! At this point it has involved making sure I get up at the same time each day in the week (weekends are a bit more relaxed), and go to bed at the same time. I then get dressed and shower whilst creating a rough plan for the day. Whilst it might seem like a great idea to be in your PJs all day, it isn’t very good for our mental health!

Boundaries with work time; for those of you who are now working from home, boundaries are even more important! Make sure you put your laptop and work phone away at the end of the day. Just because you are at home doesn’t mean you have to work longer hours. If you are struggling with work boundaries being overstepped, make sure you say something.

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself; I am sure I am not the only one who is a bit fed up with all the motivational memes floating around telling us to use this time!

Be mindful of what you are looking at on social media and how much time you spend looking at the news; it may seem like a blessing that we can read things all over social media and the news to have an understanding of what is going on in the world right now, but if we aren’t mindful then this could be dangerous for our mental health. With that in mind it is so important we are careful about what we look at online. Think about what times of day you might find it more upsetting and if you feel particularly anxious around this talk to someone.

Distract yourself; If you feel yourself ruminating train your brain to think about something else! We don’t want to be running away from our feelings, and negative emotions are part of being a human, but make sure you are talking when you have these emotions. Secondly, distract yourself! Do some colouring, find an activity to ground you back in the present. It is okay to take each day at a time

Communication; this is key during this time. Make sure you make time for catching up with friends and family. Whether socially or just to see each other it is so important we keep this line of communication open. Isolation doesn’t mean not speaking to anyone.

Alongside these core areas are two other things I do each day: 1) Be grateful and 2) Name a positive – you might think this seems trivial but for me it really has helped be a game changer especially on the days when things feel really hard.

It is also more important than ever to make sure you are talking about your feelings. Make sure you have someone around you that you can be honest with! Whatever you are feeling is valid and we need to keep talking!

Right now there are so many emotions flying around, and if you are anything like me this may change day to day (or even from hour to hour). I am not here to give you a deadline on when this will pass but please know that it will pass eventually. Some days may feel impossible and on those days it is about getting up, keeping going, pushing onwards.

This blog was written by Hope Virgo, Author and Mental Health Campaigner.

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