5 Top Tips To Help You Cope In Crazy Times
If someone had told us this time last year that we’d be banned from entering each other’s homes, that we’d be required to wear face masks and would need to sanitise our hands approximately 73 times per day; we’d have thought they were crackers. This whole situation for lots of us feels deeply surreal. We are all trying our best to adjust, recalibrate and find new ways to make things work for us; but our lives have changed faster than our tired brains can process and sometimes all it takes is a ticking off for going the wrong way down the one way system in the Co-op to bring all those negative emotions rushing back to the surface.
Since we seem to be looking down the barrel of at least another six months of living like this; I wanted to explore ways we can increase our emotional resilience when faced with situations out of our control. Sometimes it can be really tough to focus on the small opportunities for happiness that are right in front of us.
I asked psychologist Dr Emma Honey to give me her top 5 tips on not just surviving but thriving during the upcoming winter.
“Emotional resilience is our capacity to cope with and adapt to stress. Stress can be a physical feeling, the presence or absence of particular behaviours or even certain thoughts such as ‘I can’t cope’. The first thing for many of us is to slow down enough to notice how overwhelmed we are. So, that’s my first tip…”
1) Name it! Check in with yourself during the day and notice your emotion, how your body feels and what your thoughts are. Don’t judge it, don’t try and ignore it or push it away, just notice it. Then say out loud or in your head “I am feeling X and that is ok”, then move on.
2) Don’t ‘Go Compare’. Yes, we are all in this Covid nightmare together but that doesn’t mean we experience it in the same way. Being humans we naturally compare ourselves. But comparison doesn’t always help! How we think, feel and behave is all about our own experiences (past and present). In short it doesn’t matter if Joan at No.83 is loving lockdown or Jimmy at work has ‘it much worse than me’; this is your unique experience and there isn’t a right or wrong way to feel about it. So don’t add comparison guilt into the emotions you are feeling – it just complicates things!
3) Put your own mask on before helping others with theirs. In order to be at our best for those we care for we have to look after ourselves. Make time to care for yourself. I like the acronym BACE – Body, Achieve, Connect, Enjoy. There are some great articles out there with suggestions on how to include self care on a regular basis. Something as simple as indulging in a skincare ritual at the end of a busy day at work can be enough to reset an anxious mind.
Every day do something to take care of your physical BODY. Set small realistic daily goals and recognise when you ACHIEVE them – it could be completing a chore, a particular work task or some life admin. CONNECT with others. Even if you can’t see those you love connect with someone virtually every day. Do something just for pleasure and ENJOYment, no matter how small.
4) Big yourself up! When we are overwhelmed we often lose sight of our strengths and qualities and focus upon what we see as our weaknesses. Start to recognise how fabulous you are by writing down positive attributes about yourself. Each day write down a statement about a personal quality or attribute. It can’t be an achievement, so no writing “I have 3 healthy children”, instead think about the quality you bring to parenting “I am loving” or “I am forgiving”.
5) Live YOUR values. We are all in uncertain times and will undoubtedly question how we do and don’t behave. Knowing we have acted in line with our personal values can be helpful and reassuring. Ask yourself “in 5, 10, 15 years time when I look back at the Coronavirus Pandemic how do I want to have behaved?” The answer can guide you now and you can be (more) confident that at the time, you acted in the way you felt was best and why that was. Will other people agree with your decisions? Possibly not; but that’s their business not yours!
Emma gives tips for mental health and happiness over on her Instagram, Lifestyle and Wellbeing.