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Coping with Coronavirus’ isolation and anxiety

Hi, I am Alice

I am a Psychologist and a CBT Psychotherapist

working in London and Online.

 

In this difficult time

I want to reach out

with a short guide on

how to cope with Coronavirus’ isolation

and anxiety for those of us staying at home.

 

Firstly,

we want to reduce the source of anxiety

by reducing hyper-vigilance.

 

This means refraining from

checking social medias and

the news multiple times a day.

 

We want to keep informed,

but once a day is enough for that.

 

Find out when it is best for you to do this.

 

Everyone is different,

for some people

watching the news in the morning

means having a terrible day.

 

For others watching them at night

means finding it difficult to sleep.

 

As a guideline, we want to do this

not later than an hour before bed

and followed by a pleasurable activity.

 

Also we want to stop checking for symptoms

as if we look for them we will almost certainly find them.

Not because we are sick, but because this is what

Hyper-vigilance do.

 

Should you fall ill, don’t panic!

Monitor how bad you fell from 0 to 10 now and

if you are feeling any less than 8 or 9/10 bad, just

remember that 80% of cases are mild and relax.

 

Should your symptoms become severe though,

Please call 111.

 

Do this check once or twice a day only.

 

Secondly,

We need to learn to differentiate

things that we can do something about

(staying in the house, supporting others,

working or problem solving not working)

and what, how, when we can do it.

 

From things that are out of our control

(the number of deaths, financial uncertainty,

if you or somebody you love will get sick).

 

We want to recognise what is OUT of our control

and LET GO of worrying about it by postponing

judgement to when we will have

facts to base our judgement on.

 

Mindfulness exercises can help with this.

 

You will find e few free ones on this website, resources tab

or on the free version of the app Insight Timer.

 

Thirdly,

To focus on what we can influence,

we want to create our family weekly routine.

 

Throughout the day we want

a balance of activities:

 

Things we have to do

(working, homework with the kids)

things we enjoy doing

(cooking, painting, reading)

Things that give us a sense

of connection with others

(video calls with friends and family,

online games)

Me time

(meditation, hot bath)

 

The risk here is either

working 15 hours a day

or doing nothing at all.

 

Set your schedule and follow it,

but keep your own boundaries.

 

This is particularly true for children.

 

Their whole world made of school, sport and friends

has been turned around.

 

They can react with tantrums and

particularly challenging behaviour depending on their age.

 

Children more than anybody need a flexible routine and to

fell that their parents are calm, confident and in control

to feel reassured and calm themselves.

 

So let’s remind us:

things they have to do, things they enjoy doing,

things that connects them with others and

me time.

 

So welcome are the homework that the school send,

but please make sure they also have some planned time

for the other types of activities.

Playing

Baking

Painting

Practice their instrument

Whatever THEY enjoy.

 

Thankfully nowadays we also have the gift of technology,

so let’s use it for its higher purpose: connecting people.

 

Now, I know this is a controversial topic and

some people really don’t like their children using technology.

 

However, with our children locked into the house all day every day,

how else are they going to have any social contact

with people other than us parents?

 

Don’t worry, It won’t be forever and it must NOT be all day,

maybe a treat for having done the school work to look forward to.

 

So again, welcome is the video call with the classmates,

Welcome are the online video games with real friends.

Welcome is Skype with the grandparents,

for both the child and the grandparent who is also isolated.

 

Let’s use any tool at our disposal.

The key word here is flexibility and understanding that this is

particularly difficult for them.

 

And let’s not forget the me time for them too.

 

Remember children look at us to decide if a situation is

dangerous or safe and to decide how to behave in it.

 

They learn their emotions from our emotions

being that anxiety, anger or balance and empathy.

 

Let’s use this opportunity to connect more with them

and to get to know better that wonderful

person our little babies have become.

 

Fourthly,

Find a project to focus on,

Maybe something you always wanted to do

and never had time.

 

Do you have a story in mind?

Music to write or play?

Find your thing,

something in line with your interests and values.

 

Fifth,

exercise with online videos

at least 3 times a week.

 

Exercise reduces stress

and releases Endorphins

which are the feel good hormones.

 

Also when this is all over,

we won’t be 10kg fatter.

 

Last but not least,

Support others.

 

We are all in this together

and we are all more or less anxious.

Reach out to your family, friends, colleagues

share this guide and any other resource

that will provide support

rather than increase anxiety.

Cook for somebody, call them,

make them laugh.

 

And all in all:

Stay home, unless absolutely necessary to go out!

 

I hope this will be of help.

And if you still finding it difficult to cope,

know that most psychologists

are offering online sessions in this period.

 

Don’t be ashamed,

we all need a space to process this.

 

Keep safe

Alice

Author: Alice Fiorica