Easier said than done at the moment for many people. It seems that where ever you turn Covid-19 is front and centre.

Every news item has a coronavirus element, social media is awash with advice and memes. Some of them are useful others are just designed to misinform and spread panic. On top of this, coronavirus dominates our thoughts, so if it dominates our thoughts we will see it at every turn.

Remember many of my previous blogs that mention Prof Steve Peters’ ‘Chimp Paradox’. Well you can see what is happening here. We are being put under threat, so our limbic system (chimp) is active and is especially active when we are exposed to social media, and the news in particular. Our limbic systems though want to do something about this threat, and it wants to do something now. This is why we are seeing some strange behaviour from some people, such as panic buying, over thinking symptoms we may have, and just being very anxious, about the effects it may have on us. Some of us will consider the threat is not imminent and assume everyone is overreacting and there really is nothing to worry about. Hopefully our limbic systems are creating a sense of cleanliness and we all start washing our hands more frequently than we do at the moment

Now a lot of these behaviours are not very helpful, apart from handwashing and social distancing. If we are exposed to these potential threats continuously, our levels of anxiety are going to up and up and have a detrimental effect on our mental health, and our resilience. Now we cannot ignore what is happening or down play it, but we have to maintain a balance and look after our mental health.

Remember my post on resilience ( from the other week? The first thing to do is to bring yourself into the present and to stop imagining your future. Using some mindfulness techniques will bring you into the hear and now and set you free from your unhelpful thoughts. One of the easiest techniques is to count your breaths. Count in cycles of 10. When you notice your mind wandering, restart your counting from 1 again. Don’t worry if you struggle to get to 10 just keep starting again. Each time you do this, you will set yourself free of those thoughts, and quietens your mind. Give yourself a break from the news and social media. Do something you enjoy, read a book, listen to some music, get some exercise.

If you find yourself getting acutely anxious there are a couple of techniques to use. If you are at home it is important to get your heart rate up, so if you can, do some exercise, it helps you get into the present and convinces your limbic system that you have responded to a threat and released that adrenaline. Another is to practice square breathing. Breath in for a count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 4, breath out for a count of 4, and hold for a count of 4, and repeat for at least 4 cycles. This is a technique used by American Special Forces to calm them before kicking doors in and the such.

So keep you yourself present, remember you are still alive and need to live your life and get stuff done. Remind yourself of your purpose, the reason why you do what you do. Keep that in your mind, whether that is for some altruistic reason, or just to provide a better life for your family. This situation could be ongoing for a few months, so you will need to check your motivation over the coming months. Being in touch with your purpose is essential not just for now but for any event in your life.

Be creative, look at different ways of working, like working from home, using the internet to conduct business. do some batch cooking and fill up your freezer, adjust your budgets and spending, look at what is essential, what is important and what is a nice to have. Become a problem solver, rather than an issue seeker.

To sum up. Accept that it is hard, and that your emotions are effected, keep yourself in the present, remind yourself of your purpose, and start thinking out of the box.

Above all DON’T PANIC!!! It might be bad, but having a room full of toilet rolls, dried pasta and hand sanitiser is not going to make it any better.


Published by Matt Smith Personal and Professional Coach

Performance and Life Coach

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