Recent international events have brought home to everyone how much of a global village we really are. This can be feel a little scary at times, but thankfully just about all countries are now responding to the challenges that COVID-19 is producing.
The Coronavirus is something that we can all individually tackle with some simple measures such as washing our hands routinely and keeping an adequate distance from one another. However, these and more extreme changes like imposed travel restrictions will impact us psychologically and emotionally over time. In response to these significant challenges, the team at Wrkit will be posting a set of 6 blogs to help you deal with the psychological changes that will occur in the coming weeks and months.
Our first post from our series of 6 is on the topic of Change and the common effects big change can have on our lives and while we know a lot more about how naturally occurring events such as earthquakes, hurricanes and pandemics can impact us, we still go through a common psychological process when confronted by these events.
Having previously lived in Wellington New Zealand for many years and having experienced hundreds of earthquakes, when the big ones hit and movement was restricted it was always very disconcerting and concern about ourselves, our friends, our family and the future quickly set in.
For starters, initially there is usually a shocked response related to what is happening to us and this can become a re-occurring experience as more events unfold, a little like a series of aftershocks. With this shock we can also experience denial and disbelief. This can often present as a lack of interest towards the situation or a downgrading of its importance in our life, kind of a ‘don’t care so much’ reaction. This is very common and a natural early response, which will gradually give way to a fuller understanding of the situation. Feelings of powerlessness and a sense of injustice or unfairness are also common, especially if our regular routines are affected as we gradually work to assimilate and understand what has happened.
A desire for control can play out then, and frustration or worry overtime can build into anger and fear/panic unless we are able to work these emotions through. It is simply our body trying to exert control over what is happening (motivation), not realising that what is happening is much bigger than ourselves, with way too many things out of our control. Our body can then react by making us feel low – sad, upset and down (demotivation), as it tries to slow us down, urging us to think clearly and not just react. Action rather than just reaction is important, and the good news is that there are lots of actions we can take mentally to help us overcome changes whether they are big, small or even global.
Over the next number of weeks, we will be looking at ‘Mental Skills for Mental health’ and covering psychological techniques such as Goal Setting, Eustress, Reframing, Perspective Thinking, Self-Talk, and of course Resilience. For now, let’s look at some simple ways to help ourselves to process through some of what is going on around us at this early stage.
Each day take some time to write out answers to the below questions:
- How am I feeling today?
- How intense are these feelings – from 1 to 50 – (50 being extremely intense)?
- What can I do to influence these feeling today?
- How will I factor this into my plan for the day/ week/ month?
Remember that whatever you are feeling is ok, all feelings are ok – it is what we do with them that is important, as some behaviours are not ok! If for example you are angry or afraid the best ways to tackle these feelings is to channel this energy and take back some power. As a first step take this action:
- Take a moment to breath in and out a number of times
- Slow your breathing to slow your heartrate
- Clear your head by focusing on your breathe
- Slowly count to 10 in your head as take longer breaths in and out
Plan a helpful healthy physical outlet such as running, cycling, HIIT challenges; be physical in some goal-oriented way to focus your energy.
At home set goals such as spring cleaning, gardening, DIY projects which are all great for some physical output and to have a distracting challenge.
Make a daily action plan. What will you do today that will help you to accomplish your goals? Create some deadlines and achieve some results. Create some small to medium goals to get some wins on the board which will make you feel better and more in control of what is going on and within your influence.