The recent outbreak of COVID-19, commonly known as “the coronavirus,” is changing things rapidly. Many people are adjusting to working from home unexpectedly. The virus is hitting some harder than others, with some people losing their income.
As you’re adjusting to this, it may feel like it’s turning your world upside down. You may be struggling to figure out new technology, adjusting to having kids running around, and overwhelmed by the news on social media.
While this feels confusing, scary, and overwhelming, it doesn’t need to be. I am a psychotherapist and coach who specializes in helping college students and young professionals overcome stress and anxiety so they can live better lives.
Helping people through stressful times is what I love doing most. With the proper mindset, you can stay calm and focused during this time. Here are my top tips for staying resilient during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak.
Stay informed by consulting quality resources
Aim to get your information from quality sources like the CDC. Take the recommendations seriously, and then rest assured that you’re doing your part.
Practice mindfulness and breathe
When you notice your thoughts spiraling into worry about the future, even when you’ve done what you can, recognize that this won’t help the present. Notice your worry and bring your awareness back to the present moment. Take deep breaths into your belly. This helps calm your nervous system down.
Focus on what’s within your control
The events of the world are not within your personal control. You can, however, control how you manage your time, how you respond to stress, and how adaptive you are to changing times. This gives you a sense of hope and resiliency. Keep asking yourself: “what CAN I do?” After you’ve done what you can, let the rest go.
Keeping up with the news is helpful and necessary, to a point. But set some boundaries for yourself if you find you’re checking too much COVID-19 (Coronavirus) news and it’s stressing you out (for example, catching up 2 times a day instead of 10).
Become friends with change
Big changes such as working from home, homeschooling, or canceling social plans can feel overwhelming. Reduce overwhelm by taking things one step at a time. Reframe the change as an exciting and new challenge to overcome, and not an overwhelming one.
Rearrange your schedule
If you’re shifting to working from home, it might be tempting to sleep in, work late, or spend the middle of the day playing with your dog. But as someone who has worked from home, I know the importance of organization and self-discipline. Plan out your day in advance. Waking up at the same time and working set hours can keep you on track. Use apps like Google Calendar, Trello, and Asana to schedule your time and keep track of your to-dos.
Rethink your exercise routine
If you’re used to attending classes at the yoga studio or gym, you may feel like you “can’t exercise” if your favorite workout spot is closed. However, there are many options available from home or outside. Check to see if your favorite yoga instructors are offering online classes, pump up your bike tires, go on a walk, or learn how to use free weights at home. With creativity, you can stay fit and healthy (which is especially important while the virus is circulating).
Use any extra time to refocus and realign
Quarter 1 is almost over! Use any extra time you have to assess how the first quarter went. Make sure you’re on track with your resolutions, recommit to your goals, create new strategies, and optimize your workflow. The key here is to focus on what you CAN do, and not on what you can’t.
Journal about your emotions
It’s okay to be upset, afraid, or emotional about COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak. Research has shown immensely positive benefits to journaling about your emotions. Sit down for 20-30 minutes and let it out on the page.
Try new activities
Now is the perfect time to pin new recipes to your pinboard, try out some DIY projects, read new books, or take online classes. You can also do some spring cleaning or post old clothing items online. If you see the change is exciting, you may actually be grateful for this time!
Be supportive and kind
Times like these can make us more selfish and scared, or they can make us feel more generous and kind. Many people are suffering economically. If you are one of the people who has been less financially impacted, consider supporting small businesses or economically disadvantaged families who have been hit hardest. Even if you can’t contribute financially, a kind word goes a long way.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
If you’re still overwhelmed, seek the help of a coach who can help you manage your schedule and build resilience, or a qualified therapist who can help you manage intense feelings of anxiety, panic, and fear.
If you follow these 12 tips, you will feel more calm, focused, and aligned. With kindness, flexibility, and mindfulness, we can get through this!