Tips for psychological survival of coronavirus crisis

1. Engage in doing things that give you a sense of control for example cooking- if you are good in preparing your signature meal go and prepare it and enjoy the process of making yourself happy and your family happy. You know what your signature dish is because you have been praised for cooking it before.

2. Identify your emotions and express them by sharing with someone in a conversation or by journaling them somewhere in your notes or by drawing a few images of what comes to your mind. Getting emotions out of your mind in spoken words, in written words, in a form of an image is an effective way of lowering the intensity of the emotion.

3. Think about the intensity of your emotion and make conscious behavioural effort to lower this intensity if the emotion feels very intense and uncomfortable. Let’s say you are scared in response to the latest news. Do not increase the intensity of your fear by watching more news. Keep away from the news for some time to let the emotion decrease its intensity.

4. Verify the facts you hear or read – don’t believe in everything you hear or read. To minimise your access to fake news watch /read only credible news sources like BBC News, ITV News, Sky News, The Guardian’s website for written news.

5. Switch from watching the news to reading the news- reading the news engages your Logical Mind (left brain) which will be less emotional than watching the news.

6. Stay away from any news in the evening before you go to sleep – watching bad, scary news before bedtime can bring you nightmares and make you more easily startled during the night. Let yourself reed the news in the morning when you are rested and when you feel stronger.

7. Remember that we need moderate stress to function well- moderate stress motivates us to do things as well as staying connected with others. We are social animals whether you like it or not.

8. Take good care of the needs of your body. Do this on the basis on how well you know yourself – rest, nap, exercise, have enough sleep at night. Comfort yourself in healthy ways especially when you feel overwhelmed. Eat healthy food, avoid alcohol, avoid recreational drugs, avoid excessive amounts of sugar or caffeine as they can overstimulate your nervous system which can lead to anxiety. Engage in body relaxing exercises like progressive muscle relaxation to relax any stubborn tension.

9. Connect with others- stay in touch with people you know – do this via an online chat or call them, share something uplifting on social media. Try to stay positive – as we all need to go through this new experience together.

10. Respect your own needs for your own need for private space especially if you live with others in a small shared space (a flat, a small house). You don’t have to stay connected with others just because you stay more at home.

11. Focus your energy on something specific and use all extra time wisely – for example listen to your favourite music and enjoy this experience, don’t rush to do 2 other things at the same time because “it’s just music”, just let it be, stay still and listen, lie down and listen, pet your pet and listen.

12. Engage in doing something silly: dress up in a strange way, make a joke, trick someone in an innocent funny way, watch something funny online to laugh.

13. Engage in an exercise with the use of your imagination – see yourself in the future- after the coronavirus epidemic is over. Imagine how you will tell others how you survived all this.

14. Remember you are not alone and there are many others less fortunate people because of their age, their health condition, their disability – go ahead and offer your help to someone else – connect with others who might need help and deliver that help taking into account your safety regarding the potential viral infection. If you need to go and do shopping in a supermarket full of people do wear gloves and do wear even a basic face mask.

15. Try to see some positives in the given situation like more time for bonding with your children, getting to know them better or having a heartfelt conversation with your spouse or with your good friend. It is not just “too much time at home”.

16. Create a daily routine for your day even if you don’t go to work. Have a structure which gives you a sense of control over your time. Breakfast, news reading, online work, lunch preparation, online work, a break for a snack with a nice hot drink, a call to a family member/friend, dinner prep, evening entertainment like a movie, a concert, a dvd with a musical, etc.

17. Relive a positive memory and be there fully (this is another exercise with the use of your imagination). Remember to engage all of your 5 senses to experience this as it will make it more real for your mind.

18. Practice Radical Acceptance to stop the struggle with everyday reality – it is what it is, there were events beyond your control that led to the situation you are facing at present. Let it be without you struggling with it – let it be with respect for your health and the health of others. Let go of the struggle – simply accept that your life has to be a bit different for a few months. Cope with it in healthy ways.

19. Stop for a few minutes to notice your breath- breath deeper, slower for a few minutes- remind yourself that your breath is a proof that you are alive. Try to breath out more than you breath in- this is a calming breath exercise worth trying. 5 minutes of this is going to be good enough to make a difference.

20. Use helplines if you need some professional support out of hours: for 20 min phone-call support sessions connected with self-isolation or loneliness for immediate support with a crisis situation for immediate support in staying safe in crisis (Stay Alive app) for the world’s largest collection of relaxation music (Calm Radio app)

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