Adapting and Surviving Coronavirus. Keeping your Mental Health in Check

Coronavirus news, talk and speculation is all around us. TV, radio and social media are awash with it and it's likely that every conversation we have starts with - Covid-19. Undoubtedly, we're in uncharted territory and consequently it's difficult to know how to react. The most important behaviour is to make the situation work for us and adapt quickly to the inevitable changes.

Adapting and being flexible will allow us to not only survive the circumstances, but to thrive and find a positive way through. Getting stuck in a cycle of worry and anxiety is a very real possibility and one that has the potential to negatively impact you and your family if not managed carefully. Other family members, whatever their age, will also be unsure of how to behave and manage their feelings, so it remains important for you to keep adjusting to what is currently your new 'normal.'

Self-isolation and social distancing mean that we may find ourselves with lots of time on our hands to think - which can lead to a great deal of rumination. This means old anxieties, perhaps triggered by current events, may come to the fore. What is key, is to use this time constructively. We are being forced to think about where we are in our lives, so we should consider this a time of consolidation and planning for the future. Set new goals. Think about it, when do we ever get the chance to pause and properly reflect on where we are? Our lives will undoubtedly change - and potentially for the better - and we should see this as a springboard to a fantastic future in which new opportunities may open up. 

So how can you navigate these testing times?

We are all worried, so the first step is to try to distinguish between productive and unproductive worry. Not all worry is bad, but when it becomes focused on open-ended issues, those over which we have no control, it can become problematic. 

  • Productive worry is a rational state, where we recognise what can and can't be controlled and where our questions focus on a single event that has a solution - albeit not always a perfect one. Productive worriers do not let their anxiety take over when making decisions. 
  • Unproductive worry is the complete opposite and involves a series of 'what-if' questions about things beyond our control, such as a chain reaction of events, that may not have a solution. Unproductive worriers often want immediate answers to their problems and are guided by their feelings of anxiety. They think that they need to worry, so that they are better prepared and more able to control any perceived negative outcomes. However, this is untenable.

Unproductive worry often leads to negative thoughts, such as catastrophising outcomes, predicting worse case scenarios and discounting the positives. Most of us have an intolerance of uncertainty and we don't like not knowing what's going to happen. Instead of free falling into a negative spiral, try to recognise why you are worrying. Utilise self-help interventions such as setting aside 'worry time,' so that your anxiety is less intrusive on your life. Alternatively, keep a 'worry log' of your predictions and test out what actually happened, as most often you will find that your worries don't come true. 

Adapting to Your Situation

We all have to adapt to our current situation. Change can be scary, but it is necessary. We must adapt to survive. The faster we can adapt to the evolving changes taking place, the better for your psychological wellbeing. If you are becoming overwhelmed by the rapidly unfolding events, try taking a step back and limit your exposure to news as this can be anxiety provoking. Talk to others and you'll probably find many are feeling the same which can be reassuring to know that you are not alone. 

What Should You Do Next?

If you can be proactive, not reactive and take control of the situation, rather than letting it overwhelm and control you, you'll be in a strong place mentally. Now is a great time to address any mental health issues so that you can move forward positively and feel truly great - not just ok! Talk to a psychotherapist as they will be able to help you to learn to control your worries and reduce your feelings of anxiety. If you are already undergoing psychotherapy, now is not the time to stop. You've got this far and you need to keep going, otherwise you risk regressing. 

Online Therapy

It may not be possible to meet physically face-to-face to talk about your worries at the moment, but it can easily be done online. Sessions can be conducted in the privacy of your own home, or anywhere else you feel comfortable talking about what's bothering you; via your tablet, laptop or smartphone. The content of the sessions doesn't diminish in value because it?s online. I'm still here to listen to your worries and to help you find new positive ways of coping with your thoughts, feelings and behaviour. In fact, online sessions can actually save you time as you don't have to travel to and from appointments. 

For many people online therapy sessions are not their preferred method of communication, but they are 100% better than not meeting at all. It is important to maintain therapeutic contact, using the safest means we can. Video allows us to see each other. I've had many successful online psychotherapy sessions with clients. It's a highly effective method and is completely safe. Above all, it allows for a continuity of therapy, which is vital right now. This is part of our adaptation - embracing new methods of communication and finding new ways of doing things. We might even take some of these new behaviours forward when we emerge on the other side.

About Me

If you are new to me, or new to psychotherapy, I work with adults, young people and children - drawing on different psychotherapy techniques to find the right approach for you. Whatever challenges you are facing, I can help you develop a positive mindset and the psychological resources for better mental health and physical wellbeing. Please contact me via my website for a free confidential 20-minute online/telephone consultation to discuss how I can help you to move forward at this challenging time. If you are an existing client, I look forward to talking with you online until it is safe to meet face-to-face once again. 

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