Impact of the coronavirus on our mental health
The Coronavirus is undeniably having a big impact on all our lives. It is a new, unknown situation and something we have never experienced before.
With the strict measures which are now in place, we are trying to limit the spread of the virus. These measures mean we spend more time at home, work from home, have limited social contact and wash our hands very frequently.
These measures are essential, but they fundamentally change the way we live – from our daily lives and work to contact with other people and our health. This can influence our mental resistance and it may trigger feelings of sadness, anxiety, stress or loneliness.
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The media is constantly flooding us with news about the Coronavirus. It comes in all forms: good news, bad news, fake news. In this kind of situation, we are all looking for clarity and control. But how can we possibly make sense of the constant stream of information, opinions and advice that is engulfing us? We are all wondering what kind of impact this is going to have on us and our lives. It is completely normal to feel worried, anxious, unsettled, overwhelmed or scared.
When you are feeling anxious, it can be challenging to take on anything new. By visiting our website, you have already taken the first step: you are aware of your emotions and you want to look at your situation in more depth. Below are six best practices that you can incorporate into your life straight away:
Get support by talking to somebody about your situation and your feelings. This can be a challenging step to take, but we know that sharing emotions helps us and gives us support at difficult times. Have a video chat with a friend online, or get in touch with us if you would like to talk to a psychologist. You can contact us on 020-2444889 or here to arrange an online consultation.
Explore any anxieties you may have: how we feel is often a result of what we are thinking. It may help to try exploring your thoughts by answering these questions:
- What proof is there for and against these thoughts? Are my assumptions really correct? Are they true? If not, why not?
- Are there alternative ways to look at this situation?Can I identify some other perspectives?
- Is thinking this way helping me? What will it achieve?
Set a moment aside to write your anxious thoughts down on paper. This can help to put some distance between you and your thoughts.
Do a breathing or relaxation exercise – this helps to calm your thoughts and emotions.
Limit the amount of time you spend looking for information online. If you do look something up, make sure you choose a reliable source, such as Rijksoverheid, Thuisarts, NOS or Dutch newspapers. Follow government guidelines. Not all information is reliable, especially the things you may read on forums – it is important to be aware of this, or you run the risk of causing yourself unnecessary anxiety.
Be careful with alcohol and drugs; they may seem to offer relief in the short-term, but in the long-term they will cause you more problems.
The Coronavirus and Family Life
The measures which are in place to limit the spread of the Coronavirus are disruptive to family life. You may well feel as though the walls are closing in around you or that you have no idea how you will ever find any time for yourself. You might be struggling to combine working from home with looking after your children, or you may be feeling irritated with your partner and/or your children. This is new for all of us, and we are all looking for solutions.
It is important that the whole family has a clear structure and can divide the day into work-time, school-time and relaxation-time. It is a human instinct to want to do everything at once and we tend to think that this is efficient, but in fact it rarely is. If you try to do everything at once, the chances are that you will not do yourself – or others – any favours as you won’t have the necessary attention or focus. We are going to share some tips with you to help you to create structure in your day. Don’t be too hard on yourself or your family – this is a process.
Agree on specific times for school and work.
Agree on times for taking exercise (children’s yoga, walks, playing in the garden, dancing etc). Do this together – taking exercise benefits everybody!
Agree on quiet times during which everyone can choose something they feel like doing – drawing, listening to music, playing etc.
Plan structured breaks throughout the day (10 minute breaks and a lunch break).
Schedule moments for household chores (cooking together, folding up the laundry, tidying up etc.).
Make sure you make time for both work- and childcare-related tasks throughout the day. Make sure this is agreed with your partner (or somebody else who can help you) as well as with your colleagues.
Celebrate the successful moments and incorporate this celebration into your home-school-work schedule. For example, you could plan a special breakfast, do some dancing together, surprise somebody with a loving note under their pillow or read an extra book or chapter at bedtime.
Don’t fill every single moment of the day with plans. Children are creative and they are used to having to think of ways to entertain themselves after school and at the weekends. Make sure there is enough time left over for independent play or a spontaneous plan.
Make an anti-boredom list together. Write some activity ideas on pieces of paper, put them in a pot and let your child pick one out.
For more information, see our Coronavirus and Family Life programme, which goes into more detail and offers some tips on what to do when tensions start to run high.
Much of the news that we hear each day about the Coronavirus is negative. This can lead to worry, anxiety and negative emotions. Negative emotions and thoughts often centre around things that will or may happen in the future. These thoughts can lead to a diminished enjoyment of things that we used to enjoy and they can make us feel sad. We are now being asked to stay at home and limit social contact, which might lead us to feel that we are alone with our negative thoughts. It would not be surprising if feeling this way tempted us to simply close the curtains and crawl back to bed.
When you feel gloomy, taking on anything new can often be challenging. By visiting our website, you have already taken the first step: you are aware of your emotions and you want to look at your situation in more depth. Below are four best practices that you can incorporate into your life straight away:
Make sure that your day is structured. Now that we are spending more time at home and working from home, it can help to create a daily routine. Go to bed and wake up at fixed times and make a plan for each day, even if that just means identifying one thing that you would like to do. That way, you will have an overview of how your day will look and this gives you a feeling of control.
Take exercise and be healthy: walking, cycling and online yoga are great ways to keep active now that gyms have closed. Make sure you eat a healthy diet and limit your alcohol intake.
Think carefully about what makes you feel happy. Try to do an activity each day that makes you feel energized, or take up a hobby – it doesn’t matter what it is. You might have to think creatively – perhaps you could write a card to someone you care about, listen to your favourite music or try a new recipe.
Get support by talking about your situation and your emotions. This can be a challenging step to take, but we know that sharing our emotions is helpful and gives us essential support during difficult times. Have an online video chat with a friend or contact us if you would prefer to speak to a psychologist. You can contact us on 020-2444889 or here to arrange an online consultation.
The Importance of Balance
Structure and rhythm give us something to grab hold of. Due to the tight measures which have come into place to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, many people are without their usual daily routine. You may be working from home and not seeing your colleagues any more, skipping your birthday celebrations or staying indoors to be on the safe side. This may make you feel uncertain, frustrated, scared, tense and gloomy. In other words, losing your daily routine can influence how you feel.
Here are some best practices that you can get started with right away to find more balance and a new rhythm in your life:
Make sure your day is structured. Now that we are spending more time at home and working from home, it can help to create a daily routine. Go to bed and wake up at fixed times and make a plan for each day, even if that just means identifying one thing that you would like to do. That way, you will have an overview of how your day will look, which gives you a feeling of control.
Allow time for both exertion and relaxation: do some work, take some exercise, do a bit of cleaning or study for a while and then take a break. Make sure you plan the break, even though you won’t be able to chat to your colleagues by the coffee machine. Rest – as well as exertion – has a positive influence on our brains and our mood.
Think about the elements that normally provide routine during your day or week. Are these elements still part of your life, or have they stopped? If they have stopped, can you find ways to re-integrate them? It might require some creative thinking on your part – for example, could you have a video call with a colleague or family member? Or could you go for a walk before work instead of your usual commute to work?
Give yourself – and each other – space. It can be lovely to be at home with your loved-ones, but no matter how much you love each other, it can also be stressful. Give yourself and others space to be alone and to do something that is just for you.
Would you like to consult a professional psychologist?
Get in touch with our psychologists today to discuss the impacts of the Coronavirus on your mental health.
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