How does one cope with the coronavirus lockdown? How do you suddenly adjust to this completely different way of living? We’ve never experienced anything like this before, so there’s not very much we can relate to. And it really is affecting all of us in wide-reaching ways.
There are the worries about your own health and safety, as well as those of loved ones. This alone can be huge, depending on your circumstances. Really, really stressful and painful. Many people are facing financial implications and will fear for their income, businesses and livelihoods. School closures are a nightmare for many who are still needing to work.
And then there are those with other urgent health conditions (physical or mental health related) that are now possibly not receiving the help they were previously able to access. Or those in difficult or even abusive relationships for whom staying at home is not a good or safe option. (But this post is not written with emergency situations in mind).
And even if you aren’t majorly concerned by any of the above, you are still having to adjust to the limitations of life under lockdown. This blog post is filled with tips on how to cope during this time.
How to cope with the coronavirus lockdown
- Allow yourself to grieve for the plans you had made at the beginning of the year
You didn’t plan for this. You have probably set goals or intentions for 2020 that might now have to be put on the back burner. Perhaps you’ve already put a lot of work and effort into achieving those. It’s upsetting and painful. And it’s okay to grieve for those plans and intentions. It’s not easy and it’s okay to struggle with letting go (or postponing).
- Allow yourself to cry. To feel upset, sad, angry, frustrated. To feel despair.
There is no rule that says that crying or any particular emotion is wrong right now. It’s okay. It’s normal. And might I add – it’s probably needed?
- Practice self-compassion
What we’re going through right now is tough. Really tough. Place a hand on your heart (or imagine it) and acknowledge your pain and upset. Remind yourself that you are one of million of others experiencing this right now. And wish yourself well. “May I be peaceful. May I be safe. May I be at ease.”
- Switch into survival mode
Reassess what is actually doable for you now, given the limitations of this situation. A lot of us try hard to improve ourselves or our lives all the time. Perhaps right now, life would feel easier if you switched from doing-mode or improving-mode to survival-mode. Particularly if you’re feeling overwhelmed, see if this approach might add a little more breathing space. Instead of carrying on with your tasks as before, particularly if you are working for yourself, see if you could take a different approach for the time being.
- Remind yourself that this won’t last forever
The lockdown and the outbreak of the virus will pass. For all of us. And when it does, we’ll feel more grateful than ever before to do simple things such as going to a cafe or event. All these things we just took for granted will open up again and we’ll feel lucky like never before.
- Create a routine of some sort
Give yourself a reason to get out of bed, and structure your days in ways that feel good to you. This former Navy submariner said the same.
- Use the support that is available to you
Use government support, ask friends or your partner to help, use phone helplines. Whether that’s for your finances or for making sure you stay in touch with other people. Or for your health or your shopping. A lot of us struggle with feelings of helplessness and want to be doing something useful and meaningful. So if there is something you need, don’t be afraid to ask. People are often glad to help.
- Distract yourself with positive things
There is tons of difficulty around right now. In the outside world and in your inner world. Try to add lighthearted and positive things to your days. Choose uplifting films and books. Listen to inspiring or soothing podcasts or music. Light some candles and have a bath. Practice meditation or yoga.
With our nervous systems experiencing high stress already, now might not be the time for films and books filled with horror, crime or drama.
- If your situation allows, see what positive change you can make happen right now
A lot of our suffering stems from a perceived lack of agency in our lives – the ability to make things happen. As such, agency is the opposite of helplessness. See whether you can make a difference, no matter how big or small, in your own life or the lives of others or your community. It might greatly improve your sense of wellbeing.
(However, having said that: Perhaps you can’t do that right now. And if that’s the case, just know that that’s also fine. You are good enough and don’t need to magically become a hero. Coping with this is difficult enough! It entirely depends on your situation.)
- Draw upon your inner strengths
Become aware of what your own inner strengths are and make use of them during this crisis. The VIA Strengths Survey is a wonderful positive psychology tool that I wrote about here. Do the free survey, consider your top 5 strengths and ask yourself: How can I use some of these strengths to help me through this time?
Lastly, I just wanted to share these tips with you once again. You might have seen them in my previous blog post but here they are again. They are still very much relevant.
So wherever you are, I’m sending you love. This will pass and you won’t always feel like this either. It’s a phase and it will end. And in the meantime, let’s all take it as an opportunity to grow our sense of self-compassion and to be kind towards ourselves and others. What this pandemic has really highlighted for me is just how important human connection is. And just how much we all need one another.