At the moment, COVID-19 has turned into a pandemic. More than 2 million people worldwide have come down with the virus. Nearly 100,000 people have died.
Australia, the lucky country, has been able to flatten the curve by strict restrictive measures that has people locked in their home unable to go outside besides for essentials.
This current environment has seen the number of people suffering from a mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression increase.
If you’re one of the people that falls into this category it can be overwhelming and it may look like there’s no way out.
But there are things that you can do and strategies that you can put into place to alleviate the pressures of anxiety and overwhelm.
Why Do We Become Overwhelmed?
It may not look like it, but you have a strategy for becoming overwhelmed. On the surface, it looks like things just get worse and worse all by themselves until you’re finally crying in the corner not being able to get up and concentrate on life.
It turns out that the way you become overwhelmed is by thinking the worst or having negative thoughts about yourself. These thoughts are the trigger that cause an emotional response.
But you’re thinking, I don’t think anything, I just get the emotion. Sometimes the thoughts are so quick that you can’t even hear the thought. Sometimes the thought comes from deep inside which you’ve always believed to be true.
The thought triggers an emotional response. This causes you to do something which produces an outcome. If the outcome is negative, it reinforces the thought. You have the thought again which produces the emotion, then you have the action again followed by the same outcome and the negative spiral begins.
For instance, say you’re at work and you have a report that’s due. You’re internal thinking is that ‘I’m not good enough’. You become anxious and stressed about doing a good job and getting it perfect. But inevitably, because you’re stressed and not working at 100%, you make mistakes. You hand the report in just on time. You’re boss reads it and sees fundamental mistakes in the report and reprimands you. You then have the thought ‘I’m not good enough’ which triggers more feelings of anxiety. If this goes on and on, you spiral down into overwhelm which can be difficult to get out of.
But it is possible to get out of overwhelm once you know the strategy of how you go in. Once you know that thoughts that make you anxious, it’s possible to get out.
What Are You Anxious About?
The first step to getting out of overwhelm is to figure out what your anxiety is about and what you’re afraid of. This is the source of the thoughts that you are thinking and what you believe to be true about yourself.
Some anxieties include:
Anxiety of being alone
During Coronavirus, we have been ordered to stay inside and not go out. But what happens when you live by yourself? Feelings of claustrophobia and loneliness can bring you down. It can bring about a deep sadness or an anxiety. But what thoughts could be going on here? You could be thinking that nobody likes you. You might have a fundamental belief of you’re always alone and nobody wants to be in a relationship with you. Or you’re afraid of dying alone.
Counter this thought with ‘This is temporary. It is a good time for self-reflection and getting to know myself better’. ‘It will be over soon’.
Try and organise Zoom or Skype calls with friends or family.
Anxiety of how to run a household, work and look after the kids.
You might have this anxiety because you’re afraid of failing or you believe you need to be perfect. Counter this with, ‘Nobody’s perfect’. And ‘I’m just doing the best I can with the resources I have’.
Nobody is judging you because everybody is in the same boat. Focus on what matters the most and let go of being perfect. Think that this is the perfect to spend more time with the kids and bringing together the family as a unit.
Anxiety of working from home
Work can be stressful at the best of times, but it makes things worse working from home. There’s no support and there’s no one to talk to besides on Zoom. Deadlines looming and you’re still stressed out and you have the same pressures at work.
You might have a fear of failure in that case you need to tell yourself that nobody’s perfect and you’re doing the best you can.
Anxiety of going out
If you suffer from any mental health issues, you probably have some anxieties of going out. But now in this current climate, it’s even worse, because you’re battling with the fear of catching Coronavirus.
You’re fear might be a fear of dying which can be terrifying. In which case you need to tell yourself that everyone is going to die, but it’s not my time yet.
Dealing With Uncertainty
Dealing with uncertainty is another source of anxiety. They come in the form of ‘what if’s’. What if I run out of money? What if I lose my job? What if I can’t get another job for 6 months? These are forward thinking anxieties called catastrophising thoughts. How do you deal with these?
What it comes down to is that you can’t control the future. In fact you can’t control anything. The only thing that you can control are your behaviours and actions. So instead of focusing your worry on the future to something that you can’t even control, focus on how you behave during these uncertain times. Do you remain stoic and calm? Just do the best you can with the resources that you have.
One way of dealing with these anxieties is getting out of your head and changing a negative thought into a positive one.
Getting Out of Your head & Changing Your Thoughts
I can hear you saying, it’s difficult to have positive thoughts because I think negative thoughts all the time. Or I’ve tried thinking positive, it never works.
You can’t just think the thought once or twice. You need to think the thought constantly for it to sink in.
The brain is made up of neurons. When you think a thought it connects together neurons. If you think that thought over and over again, a super highway is created so that you automatically have that thought. The trick is to stop giving that thought energy, and create a new super highway out of new positive thoughts.
One strategy to create the super highway and get out of your head is to write the thoughts down on paper.
Firstly, write down your negative thoughts. Then see them for the lies that they are. Write next to it a positive thought about yourself. Strengthen these new thoughts and beliefs by writing them down in places that you frequently look at so that you are constantly reminded of them.
Then, go back into your memories and look for examples that reinforce the positives. Write these down in a place like a journal that you can come back to again when you’re feeling low to remind you of how great you are.
Also, write down in a journal or something that you can refer to, every nice thing or complement that someone says to you or something that you achieved and did well.
By having all of these positive things in place then you are likely to feel better about yourself even when things fall apart.
If you are catastrophising, write down your catastrophic thoughts onto paper. Write down what is the likelihood of it happening. Then write down a strategy or plan for dealing with it if It did happen. By getting it out of your head and onto paper it frees up the mind to focus on other things.
There’s some other things that you can do to cope with anxiety and overwhelm besides from looking at thoughts.
5 Things You Can Do to Cope With Anxiety During COVID-19
These are some other things that can help you with anxiety.
- Do some light exercise – Doing light exercise can help improve your thoughts plus it will increase the happy hormone Endorphins which are great at improving mood and making you feel good. Doing things like yoga can help you to be centred and get your thoughts out of your head while you focus on breathing and technique. Or go for a walk. Breathing deeply in fresh air can help oxygenate the brain and clear your thoughts. Walk with a podcast or audiobook and you will get out of your head.
- Eat healthy – It’s so easy during Coronavirus to eat unhealthy foods. There may be no structure during the day so you are constantly snacking. Try to have structure during the day and eat every couple of hours. Eat healthy food consisting of fruit, vegetables, lean protein and wholegrains. It’s good for the body plus it can boost mood making you feel good.
- Get on Zoom and talk with friends – One of the fundamental necessities of being human is that we belong’. Getting on zoom and talking to friends may help problem solve issues that you have plus it increases the levels of Oxytocin, the love hormone, which reduce stress.
- Keep structure during the day – Having structure during your day can make you feel more productive which can have a positive impact on your stress levels. Make sure to get up at the same time as if you were going to work. Have the same break times and go for a walk during lunch to clear your thoughts.
- Be kind to yourself – And lastly, be kind to yourself. We live in extraordinary times and nothing like this has happened for 100 years. If you have kids at home, just do the best you can with the resources you have. Nobody is judging you and everyone is in the same boat.
Kristin is a NLP Practitioner and Health Coach helping people with mood and mental health. She has bipolar disorder. In the past she had an attempted suicide and two nervous breakdowns. But through technques to improve mood and control emotions she hasn’t had any symptoms of mental illness for 10 years. Now she teaches her method to other people so they can also get over overwhelm.
To work with her click here
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