Keeping Your Mind Well
Living through the Coronavirus Crisis can feel extremely overwhelming. Keeping up with everything on the news and social media may feel challenging at the moment. It seems that there are conflicting messages everywhere and nobody knows what to believe.

Holly Shahverdi, Doctoral Counselling Psychologist in Training (www.hollyshahverdipsychology.co.uk), shares her advice on managing difficult conversations around coronavirus, things to do on lockdown and distress tolerance skills.

Managing Overwhelming Feelings
At this time, it’s important to pay attention to how you are feeling. All emotions and feelings serve a purpose for survival in our bodies even if sometimes they feel distressing. They are our body’s way of protecting us and helping us to manage danger.

What makes the coronavirus situation uniquely challenging is that it is a situation we cannot control or escape. This is why distress tolerance skills are going to be key in surviving in lockdown. Learning how to tolerate distress and work through the moment in highly stressful and inescapable situations are key to surviving crisis situations.

ACCEPTS
ACCEPTS is a well-recognised mnemonic in Dialectical Behaviour Therapy and it’s something we can all draw upon in distressing situations.

Try this when emotions become too overwhelming:
ACTIVITIES
Engaging in an activity is a great way to distract the mind and manage distressing emotions. Some examples could be reading, arts and crafts or watching a film. There are plenty of examples in the ’30 things to do in lockdown’ grid!
CONTIBUTING
This one is about giving back or doing something to help another person or cause. Could you raise awareness for an important charity? Could you surprise a loved one with something special, send a card or even just give someone a call? All of these things give us a sense of meaning and purpose!
COMPARISONS
When the going gets tough, it can be really helpful to see how other people are managing. Could you read a blog or forum about how people are dealing with corona virus anxiety? Maybe you could reach out to a friend or family member for ideas on how they might be coping and give them a try!
EMOTIONS
Sometimes it can be useful to try and do something that encourages the opposite to what you’re feeling in a particular moment. Are you feeling sad? Watch a funny film or recall funny memories. Are you feeling angry? Try and practice mindfulness and breathing techniques to feel calmer.
PUSHING AWAY
Whilst we cannot control what is happening at the moment, we do have the power to ‘push it away’. This might look like turning the news channel off or creating healthy boundaries around social media. 

If we are able to push a situation away we simultaneously decrease contact with the emotional cues linked to it (e.g. anxiety, anger or sadness).
THOUGHTS

It may help to try and distract yourself with other thoughts. Can you think about a time when you were feeling really happy? What about reading a book and really focussing on the words?
SENSATIONS
This one works by distracting the mind by using physical sensations as a way to refocus. Changing sensations might be holding ice cubes or eating a strong peppermint. Maybe taking a hot/cold shower or spraying your favourite perfume at a time of distress. These are just some examples, but there are many different things you could do. Try thinking about which might be helpful for you and writing them down on a piece of paper to refer to when things get too overwhelming.
30 Things to do whilst on lockdown:
Following on from the previous section, here are some ideas of activities to do to survive the lockdown, to curb boredom and boost your wellbeing:

And remember, just because they call it ‘social distancing’ there are still ways to get in touch with people. Try calling or video calling instead of typing as just the sound of someone’s voice may make all the difference!

  • READ A BOOK
  • HAVE A CLEAR OUT
  • MEDITATE
  • RECONNECT WITH A FRIEND
  • COMPLETE A JIGSAW
  • LEARN A NEW SKILL
  • CREATE A ROUTINE
  • CATCH UP ON THAT LIST OF JOBS
  • TEACH YOURSELF SOMETHING NEW
  • BAKE SOMETHING
  • GET SOME FRESH AIR
  • HAVE A DIGITAL CLEAR OUT
  • FIND A NEW UPCYCLING PROJECT
  • KEEP ACTIVE
  • VIDEO CALL A FRIEND
  • LOOK THROUGH OLD PHOTOS
  • GET DRESSED
  • GET MEDITATING
  • BE CREATIVE
  • KEEP A DIARY
  • BINGE ON A SERIES
  • WRITE YOUR FEELINGS
  • REFLECT ON YOUR EXPERIENCE
  • GET MUSICAL

Managing Conversations about Coronavirus
Everywhere you look, someone is talking about COVID-19. You hear about it on the news, in the office, on social media… Maybe you’re even starting to have dreams about it! All this talk of the virus can be very damaging to our psychological wellbeing! Here are some things that may help: Reframe- When we are in a situation that we cannot control, we may feel different things. Some people might feel extremely anxious and manage this by constantly talking about the situation or panic buying. Others may feel frustration and anger toward the situation. Try to remember that there is no right or wrong way to feel in times of uncertainty. Reframing the way that we communicate is important to help people work through their feelings:
Instead of:
Maybe try:
“Can you just shut up talking about this?”
“I hear you and I understand that this is a difficult time but please can we change the subject because this is making me feel anxious”.
“You’re totally over/under reacting”
Remember that we don’t always know what is on people’s minds. Try to be open and non-judgemental when you don’t understand someone’s reaction.
“Yeah… I’ll be there in 10 minutes”
“Actually, that doesn’t feel comfortable for me right now but maybe we can call each other?”

Boundaries on Social Media

  • TIME Have scheduled times to be using social media and watching the news. When you’re not doing this, distract yourself (See page 4 for some ideas).
  • PRESS MUTE Remember, on social media you can mute people’s accounts without them knowing and this may be helpful if someone close to you is sharing distressing content about COVID-19.

  • DISCLAIMERS If you feel that you want to share content related to COVID-19, maybe consider using disclaimers on distressing content
  • CHECK YOUR SOURCES Try to follow legitimate and trustworthy sources such as the World Health Organisation and the NHS. Avoid websites that you don’t recognise.
  • BE KIND Remember that everyone processes things differently and there is no right or wrong way to feel at this time. Try to provide support to others where you can and most importantly, be kind to yourself!
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