I hope you are coping well with this strange world we are in at the moment. I know my anxiety levels are raised. Due to the restrictions in place to control the spread of Covid-19 I am not working in the Manchester CBT Clinic at the moment. It is so important to do this to reduce the spread and to support the NHS; my wife is working in ICU as I write this.
The stress of the massive changes this has brought are affecting all of us. Worrying about the health of our family and friends, working from home or fear of losing our jobs, unable to go out and not knowing how this will end, information overload from constant news about the pandemic can lead to feeling overwhelmed. This is all a recipe for high anxiety and spiralling negative thoughts.
Here are some steps that could help you cope:
Reframe “I am trapped” to “I can now focus on myself”
Rather than focussing on what you can’t do now, focus on what you can. What opportunities does this bring you? Doing one productive thing per day can lead to a more positive attitude. Focus on long-avoided tasks, think of things you want to learn or create. Make a list and plan how to make them happen. This is your chance to slow down and focus on what is important to you.
Avoid constantly checking the news about Covid-19
It is very easy to keep checking the news about Covid-19. This constant stream of death and illness into your brain will increase your stress level and affect your overall mood and motivation. It is important to control this information overload. It would be good to limit this to watching or reading something once a day. Make sure it from a trusted source that you know will give you good quality information.
Build a routine and stick to it
Try and maintain a structure to your days. Work normally gives us that so you need to design your days. This is important for families with children. They need a routine to follow. It gives us a sense of control over the day. Working from home can be hard as it is tempting to fall into a more lethargic lifestyle, which could lead to negative thinking. Wake up and go to bed around the same time, eat meals, shower, adapt your exercise regimen, and get dressed! Sticking to your normal routine will keep you active and less likely to spiral down It will also be easier to get back to the outside world when this is over.
A messy home can lead to a messy mind
Anxiety is linked to uncertainty and a lack of control, which is how the world seems at the moment. It is important to bring certainty and control to your home. Try to keep the things organized, predictable and tidy. If you can set up fixed areas for your daily activities. This can be helpful to organize your day, so set up a workspace, eat at the table, have an area to exercise. A lack of boundaries can affect your routine and can make the day feel very long. Lastly a disordered and cluttered home can increase your stress level and make it feel even more claustrophobic, so try to keep it tidy.
Choose a new lockdown ritual/habit
Try starting a new morning ritual. Get up early, use a journal to write down your thoughts and plan your day, do some form of exercise (jog, yoga etc) and try starting a mindfulness program. I recommend using the Headspace app. Think of all the people you could reconnect with, make a list and start calling them. Are there any things you have always wanted to do but never had time? Learn to paint, speak Spanish (Duolingo app) , bake ….? Make time for these things. It is good to have things to look forward to in the day.
If your anxiety becomes too much seek help
Many therapists are offering therapy online. Remember to reach out for help if your anxiety is reaching proportions that is unmanageable without professional help.
All my sessions are now being run online using Zoom and Skype. I have run sessions online for many years for people too anxious to come in and for people living too far from the clinic. I have found it to be a very effective way of running CBT sessions and the results have been as good as face to face sessions.
Please give me a call if you want any help or advice - 0161 8345888 or you can book a session online at www.manchestercbtclinic.com/appointment.html
I have been working as a therapist for 28 years. I specialize in treating Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Body Dysmorphic Disorder and Health Anxiety