The current worldwide pandemic has brought about fear and anxiety in many people around the globe. With the changes in our routines, our work life, social distancing, mandatory lockdowns, shopping, kids, and our homes, the coronavirus has become a brutal psychological test for many. We’re worried about life, nances, our jobs and our health, running a family, and so much more. While in lockdown, working from home, and not having to go out might be easy for some, it’s not that simple for others, and causes much distress.

Fear, anxiety, worry, and many more emotions come up for many people. But how to deal with it? How do you ensure your mental peace and physical health don’t take a toll? How do you make sure everything is good around you, and that you remain strong for yourself and your loved ones?

We’re all wired to follow a certain set of patterns, so this change and uncertainty is bringing up a lot of insecurity; this will obviously lead to anxiety. It’s essential to remember that you’re not alone. We’re all going through this, and to help you to control your anxiety and fear during lockdown, we suggest the following strategies.

Tell yourself that this is not permanent

While problems and crises do happen, we must also remember that we have had our share of good times too.

Everything in life goes in a cycle. So, while there are ups and downs, none of it is permanent. It will eventually fade out, and life will return to normal. Keep telling yourself this; it will give you a sense of hope and long-term security.

Stay away from unnecessary information

While it’s good to be updated on what’s happening, and to take precautions accordingly, too much disturbing news, and the growing numbers of COVID-19 cases has a very strong impact. It brings up all the stored traumas in our subconscious mind, which will lead to more anxiety and fear.

Our advice is to limit your time on social media and the news, so as to avoid its impact on your mental health. You can, however, still adhere to the basics to help curb the crisis.

Practice gratitude

The benefits of practicing gratitude are endless. People who do this, taking time to notice and reflect on the things they’re thankful for, experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and have stronger immune systems.

Gratitude helps release serotonin (called the ‘happy chemical’, it contributes to well- being and happiness) into the bloodstream. This instantly elevates a person’s state of mind, and helps them to release their fears and worries.

Gratitude is not only about being thankful for positive experiences. In fact, sometimes thinking about negative or difficult situations can help to really nail down what you have to be thankful for.

Be grateful for your house, your body, food, and your family. Remind yourself how significant these things are, and how quickly we forget how important they are in our daily grind. Notice the good things, look for them, and appreciate them. Savour, absorb, and really pay attention to those things. Express your gratitude to yourself in your journal, or thank someone personally. Remembering these things and feeling grateful will also help switch your focus from a sorry state to a pleasant state of mind.

Create a flexible but consistent daily routine

Working from home sounds like a dream — pyjamas all day, slacking off, maybe even working from the couch! But it can get bleak and unproductive pretty quickly if not approached in the right way.

Even if you don’t have to keep the same hours you did when you were going into the ofce, try to have some kind of regular routine. Wake up and go sleep at the same time, exercise, watch TV when you usually watch TV, and eat regular meals. Dress for work! You can’t feel and act like a professional while wearing pyjamas. You’ll stay productive, and the more you stick to that routine, the easier it will be when you return to work.

Exercise and eat right

While we don’t have access to gyms, fitness classes, sport facilities, stadiums, public pools, and playgrounds, it doesn’t mean we should stop being physically active. There are plenty of online workouts you can do from the comfort of your home, and doing so can help your mental health. There are any number of exercises you can do without any equipment, and YouTube, Instagram and other social media platforms have channels that offer instruction in everything from yoga to Pilates to strength training. And, if you can still go outside to your garden, nothing beats a bit of gardening, and the extra Vitamin D is great for your immune system. These activities will not only keep you in shape, but they’ll also release toxins from the body. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and will release all your stored energy.

When it comes to eating, include more greens and water-based fruits, as they keep your mind and body balanced, active, and healthy. Your food does not have to be boring, and it’s actually the perfect time to experiment with new and exciting recipes.

Keep a clean and positive environment

A clean home really lifts our mood. Also, cleaning helps us feel a sense of accomplishment, and diverts our focus from what we’re feeling.

Do a deep spring-clean, and get rid of things that you no longer need. Organise and de- clutter your home and workspace. Not only will this protect against the spread of illness, but it also makes being cooped up in your home a lot more pleasant. Finish that list of chores you’ve been putting off, or never had time for. Also, find ways of putting out brightly coloured things, and play uplifting music. This will denitely enhance your environment, and make you more cheerful and relaxed.

Focus on what’s really important

“And just like that, money, social status, and all that superficial stuff means absolutely nothing.”

We often talk about our priorities in life. How many of us have actually stopped to really think about what’s most important to us (relationships, jobs, money, status, material objects)? Never mind how much time we spend on our priorities compared to the less important things. Well, now is as good a time as any to invest in what really matters.

Stay connected to your support network, and make sure it’s a healthy one. Check in with your close friends and family. Get on the phone, Skype, or FaceTime, and make time to connect regularly. You’ll probably need it, and so will everyone else.

Ask yourself what works for you. What are the circumstances that allow you to be your happiest, calmest, most energetic, and most productive? Try create the most favourable circumstances for yourself. Remove the things you don’t need, don’t use, and don’t love. You may find that you have more space to be creative, and you might get a boost in focus too. It’s irrational, but it’s true: There’s a lot we can’t control, but being able to manage the things we can control in our life will help lift heavy burdens, allow us to reconnect with what’s really important, and will bring a lot more peace and joy.

Use this time to visualise and create your future

We’re all worried about countless things at the moment. Our next paycheque, taking care of our loved ones, paying the bills, our relationships, and stability. Now’s the time to visualise and think about building a future.

Create a foundation of what you’d like to achieve once the pandemic is over. Visualisation helps us get clarity. It also helps in actualising our dreams and reality. This is the perfect time to think about our goals, and as we do that, our focus will shift from fear to what possibilities can be created. All of this will help us feel a sense of hope and positivity.

This is an unprecedented time, and you’re doing the best you can. We don’t know how long this isolation will last, but think about how much better things are going to be on the other side. We’ll be able to visit people, go to our offices, and most importantly we’ll have a better understanding of what matters and how we want to deal with the future. Be grateful for this time, think of the end goal, and take things day by day.

We’re resilient people, and we will get through this!

These techniques are there to help you to deal with fear and anxiety. If you feel as if your emotions are building up and they’re too much to handle, it’s advisable to talk to someone or seek professional help. The team at 4 Seeds is here to help with personal and business coaching to provide the support, expertise, and resources you need to manage yourself, your business, and your employees in this challenging time.

About the Author: Kerstin Jatho

Kerstin is the senior transformational coach and team development facilitator for 4Seeds Consulting. She is also the author of Growing Butterfly Wings, a book on applying positive psychology principles during a lengthy recovery. Her passion is to develop people-centred organisations where people thrive and achieve their potential in the workplace. You can find Kerstin on LinkedIn, Soundcloud, YouTube and Facebook.

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