The coronavirus has caught us all completely off guard. Politicians and health care professionals must suddenly take measures that have far-reaching consequences for our everyday lives. Quick action is required, we have to adapt and arrange ourselves, while our fears and worries are constantly running in the background. In order to protect our mental health in the time of the Corona crisis, we should now, after the initial shock, take the helm again and actively do something for our well-being. We have 6 ideas for you.
1. Be grateful
Many people are currently saying that we have to make the best of the corona crisis. But how do you actually make the best of it and should you really do that? First of all, it is not easy to see the positive side of the corona topic. Especially if you or your relatives belong to a risk group, this approach even seems to be completely out of place. Maybe it is not even about letting the (positive) thoughts circle around Corona, because there are many things apart from the Corona crisis that make our lives rich. The talk is of gratitude. In the sense of gratitude we don’t have to make the best of whatever, but see what is already good. Every night before you go to bed, write down five things for which you are grateful today. These can be the good conversation with your friend, the sun that laughed in your face, your workplace, running water from the tap, or a delicious meal.
2. Planning power sources
Because of the safety precautions, there are many things that are prescribed for us at the moment: We are only allowed to eat in restaurants until 6pm, we are not allowed to go to work, we are not allowed to send our children to kindergarten or school etc.
Even though we can understand the sense of these measures, they can feel like prohibitions for our psyche. We ask ourselves what we are allowed to decide at all and experience a loss of control.
However, self-determination is essential for our well-being. Therefore, in times of the corona crisis we should consciously plan positive activities that we enjoy – so- called power givers. Of course, we have to adapt to the current situation: reading, talking on the phone with a good friend, baking a cake, watching our favourite TV show, doing yoga, starting an online education, etc.
Plan at least one of these strength givers for each day and you will notice a significant difference in your well-being over time.
3. Sleep well
To be powerful and rested, good sleep is essential. Fortunately, there are some things we can do to actively promote our sleep. First of all, check whether you currently have good sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene means – following the rules of physical hygiene, such as washing your hands, which is so important now – that you pay attention to a few points to ensure optimal sleeping conditions. For example, you should go to bed and get up at the same time if possible. You should also create a sleep ritual, which could include a relaxation exercise, for example. If possible, use your bed only for sleeping (the only exception is sex!) and not for other things like work or watching television. Make sure that the light is subdued before going to sleep and avoid screen light for at least half an hour before going to bed. You should also take care not to exercise or eat anything for about 2 – 3 hours before going to bed. It is also beneficial if you check your caffeine consumption: You should not drink more than 3-4 cups per day and should best avoid drinking it completely from around 2 pm.
4. Living values
Viktor Emil Frankl was an Austrian psychiatrist who survived the Auschwitz concentration camp. Even during this difficult time, he studied the human psyche and observed that the feeling of a successful life is directly related to the recognition of a sense for one’s own actions.
Perhaps it is not possible for us at the moment to pursue our concrete goals in the usual way, but we can do other things that are related to the same values.
A value is like a direction that we can always take – whether there is a pandemic or not. Let’s say you wanted to take a trip to South Africa to get to know the African culture locally. But because of the Corona crisis, you can’t fly now. The value behind your travel plans might be curiosity, adventure or curiosity. Even if you are in quarantine, you could live these values by starting an online Afrikaans language course or reading a non-fiction book about South Africa. Of course, it is not the same as setting foot on South African soil. But it is the same direction and provides a sense of fulfilment despite frustration. Besides the values already mentioned, common values are love, compassion, self-care (everything you do for your well-being and health) and connectedness.
Think about it: Which values play a role in your life and what could you do to live them despite the current corona crisis?
5. Keep moving
The measures to contain the corona virus severely restrict our range of movement. Many people even have to remain in domestic quarantine.
Psychological studies have shown, however, that exercise has a mood-lifting effect and can even prevent depression. Sport may already be one of your daily strength-boosting activities – if not, you may now consciously integrate it more into your everyday life in order to increase your well-being.
However, some people find it difficult to exercise at home because they are used to group training and gyms. It may take some time to get used to it. It may also be helpful to try something new that you don’t yet associate with a particular environment. For example, you could practice yoga or Pilates, dance, do weight training with your own body weight or try a little exercise in between: Knee-bending when brushing your teeth, climbing stairs instead of using the elevator, jogging to the supermarket or riding your bike.
6. Keep in touch
We humans are social beings: We need closeness and contact to feel comfortable. It is therefore very important that you make sure that you talk enough with family and friends despite the given limitations: telephoning, skyping, chatting, sending voice messages – there are no limits to your contact creativity. Another way to feel more connected is through compassion meditations. In the so-called Metta meditation we first create love and compassion with ourselves and extend it further and further, to our friends, acquaintances, the city and country we live in and finally to the whole world.
We at HelloBetter would also like to stay in touch with you – let us know which of our tips are helpful for you and whether you have any other strategies to feel good in the face of the corona virus.