Exercise (while respecting social distancing recommendations) is a well known mood enhancer.
Let's face it, you can feel the growing fear and anxiety - every family is linked to a vulnerable person. In our house my wife's post cancer treatment makes her high risk as well as my elderly parents.
So I thought let’s try and calm things a little. First of all our fear response is a normal response to such a threatening event. It protects us to some degree but also if always present it can paralyse our thinking. So here are my top tips to cope with COVID-19.
Every Monday and Thursday at 9pm I will be on my facebook page: Dr Eddie Murphy providing good guidance care and support - the antidote to fear is care, connection and compassion.
Fear and anxiety is a circle of fire that ignites and fuels itself. If left unchecked it will just progress and worsen.
Checking is a particularly anxious behaviour; checking reports, news, social media feeds, checking our bodies, checking out other people – excessive checking will lead to more anxiety.
Structure & Routine
Another way of looking at this is that we have been given the gift of some time. Change and realignment is now trust upon us, is it a curse or a gift? It’s our attitude and perspective that determines this. So set your sleep times, your waking times, and structure your day around work, rest and play.
My friend in Wexford Dermot Rafter explains his day: “I have set a daily schedule. I intend to do one physical task each day (cleaning, sorting, clearing); one admin task (life admin, assignment marking, work admin); and one leisure task/ activity (walk, drive, watch a movie/ TV programme). These three tasks will be punctuated with some reading.”
The busier we can be the less time we have to think / over think. It’s crucial to focus on what we can and can’t control. Focusing on what is out of our control will only make us feel more anxious.
I believe sleep is one the most important aspects of our self-care. Its fundamental. Of course worry about Covid-19 will intrude. Mark Smyth, clinical psychologist highlighted some of this that: “It is understandable that we are at risk of lying in bed thinking about lots of what ifs; what if I get it / a family member gets it / if someone I loves gets so sick they die. No matter how long or how many angles you think about it from while lying in your bed trying to sleep, it won’t change the risks or the reality of Covid-19. The only thing it will change is your tiredness levels and ability to think straight and emotionally cope the next day. Prioritise a good sleep routine.”
Social connection is now key – we stand together or we fall individually. Be grateful for the technology we have to speak, video call, and WhatsApp, radio and TV.
As social distancing and isolation becomes more the new normal modern media will allow us to keep connected. For young people and teenagers we may need to be more flexible regarding phone time so they can connect with their peers.
If you are like me you get a bit shit crazy being in one location all the time! I see my car as an isolation pod and load the family in and go up the bog for a walk. We need to get out, its good for our head, heart and guts. Exercise is a well known mood enhancer, you don't need the gym; you can walk, run, cycle or watch a dance/ exercise/ yoga youtube videos.
Tune In Real News
Modern media particularly fake news hypes things up to create click-bait headlines on social media or WhatsApp messages sent to us multiple times. Now is the time to throw up a filter to catch the crap. Stick to reliable, reputable, and trustworthy sources of information such as the www.hse.ie and WHO. Listen or read the news once a day. If anything else dramatic happens, somebody will let you know, believe me.
Now is the time for perspective, for supporting our healthcare staff by hand washing and social distancing, for knowing that this too will pass. Around the world the best scientific minds are now focused on this tricky problem. Each of us is essential to solving this problem. We can save each other’s lives – without ever being aware that we are.