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Coping with Covid-19: taking action on mental health in the ‘new normal’
of the coronavirus pandemic have become a physical reality for Northern
Ireland, sending us indoors for an indeterminate period.
we isolate ourselves and exercise social-distancing from others when we head to
the shops for necessities, it’s vital we don’t allow Covid-19 to burden our
mental health with excessive worry, fear and anxiety.
Ireland society, like the rest of the UK, now finds itself at the beginning of
an unprecedented experience, one that few among us could have ever envisaged.
Some may be viewing it as a welcome retreat from the hectic rush of modern
life, but many may be fearful of the enforced isolation it now presents.
For people living with mental health issues, the stress and anxiety this
‘new normal’ heralds, may be exacerbated by the prospect of losing contact with
people they depend upon. It is well established that many people living with
anxiety have less tolerance to uncertainty, and in the current situation, it’s
understandable that some people may feel overwhelmed and begin to catastrophise
– and imagine the worst case scenario.
However, coming, as Covid-19 does, in an era of a 24/7 online world, there
is a whole raft of networks, advice and virtual assistance to turn to for
support (see bottom). But while help is there, it can all become too much at
times, so why not adopt some of the following tips to help you cope.
you’re feeling overwhelmed by the barrage of Covid-19 on social media, news and
chat groups, it may be time to press ‘mute’.
Try to limit your exposure to news sources which
are covering the coronavirus issue as this only serves to feed fear;
Ensure that you have some mental ‘downtime’ woven
into your daily schedule;
Embrace the Five Ways to Well-Being:
Connect – even if you
can’t physically be with your friends and loved ones, connect with them via
phone, email, Skype, Facetime – whatever way you choose;
Be Active – exercise may be
limited at the moment, but it makes us feel good and we can still go for a walk
– while keeping a distance of two metres – between yourself and other people;
make your home your gym by following an online video or make up a circuit of
exercise in your garden;
Take Notice – this tip
advocates stopping and pausing or take a moment to look around you now and take
notice of the beautiful, new, unusual or extraordinary things in your everyday
life. Even if your options are limited at the moment, there’ll be something to
Keep Learning – these troubling
times might be the perfect opportunity for you to learn a new thing, while
you’re prevented from carrying on your day-to-day routine. You can access
countless ‘how to’ videos online these days so why not learn a new craft or
hobby, a new instrument or even a new language;
Give – The opportunity to give to others may
be limited at the moment however, you could help an elderly neighbour in
self-isolation by buying them groceries or offering to walk their dog, while
still following the official hygiene advice on preventing the spread of
UK promotes the APPLE technique which
encourages us to Acknowledge, Pause,
Pull back, Let go and Explore:
Acknowledge – Notice and acknowledge
the uncertainty as it comes to mind.
Pause – Don’t react
as you normally do. Don’t react at all. Just pause and breath.
Pull back – Tell
yourself this is just the worry talking, and this apparent need for certainty
is not helpful and not necessary. It is only a thought or feeling. Don’t
believe everything you think. Thoughts are not statements or facts.
Let go – Let go of
the thought or feeling. It will pass. You don’t have to respond to them. You
might imagine them floating away in a bubble or cloud.
Explore – Explore the
present moment, because right now, in this moment, all is well. Notice your
breathing and the sensations of your breathing. Notice the ground beneath you.
Look around and notice what you see, what you hear, what you can touch, what
you can smell. Right now. Then shift your focus of attention to something else
– on what you need to do, on what you were doing before you noticed the worry,
or do something else – mindfully with your full attention.
We’ve gathered up a list of sources of support you might find useful to help safeguard your mental health during these unsettling times:
A HELPING HAND
Government: Keep up to date with the latest advice and
support from the government. It’s important to use trustworthy sources.