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Therapists and mental health experts share their top tips for staying calm during coronavirus

Posted by
Anna Brech
Published
Stay calm during coronavirus

Is a steady stream of coronavirus news getting the better of you? Here are some simple self-care tips to dial down any anxiety that may be brewing within. 

When the world is in the grips of an unprecedented health crisis such as coronavirus, it’s hard to know what to do.

You want to be feel-good and flippant – but that feels a little tone-deaf; inappropriate even. On the other hand, being the person who panic-loads their shopping trolley with 10 packs of toilet roll isn’t a good look, either. 

And all the while, a steady drip-drip of alarming news from around the world fuels a nagging sense of worry. 

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In such situations as these, we rely on the experts. And while scientists set the tone on our national approach, we can also turn to the pros when it comes to managing mental health on a smaller scale.

In the past few days, therapists, doctors and campaigners from across the mental health sphere have been sharing their strategies on staying calm amid the uncertainty.

From being gentle with yourself to spending time in nature, here are some of their top self-care tips:

Slow things down

It can be really hard when you’re trying to juggle your own feelings with looking after everyone else. US-based therapist Allyson Dinneen of the popular Notes From Your Therapist account suggests slowing things down to prevent yourself from getting overwhelmed.

Read more books, have more sex

How to cope if you’re social distancing or self-isolating at home? Hypnotherapist Chloe Brotheridge of Calmer You recommends focusing on the things we don’t normally have much time for, such as reading, clearouts, baths and sex.

Be gentle with yourself

Relationships therapist Nedra Glover Tawwab reminds her hundreds of thousands of followers on Instagram to be gentle with themselves and others during this volatile period. Everyone reacts differently, so it’s best not to jump to judgement.

Make sleep your priority

Sleep is one of those things that can be so easily tipped out of balance by general feelings of anxiety. Sleep expert Dr. Nerina Ramlakhan advises that we take it back to basics with a look at the impact of lifestyle factors such as exercise and hydration, in order to sustain the habit of good sleep. 

Examine your motives for panic-buying

It’s easy to ridicule those who are stockpiling toilet roll or baked beans right now, but psychotherapist Karin Peeters of Inner Pilgrim has a more empathetic approach. She suggests examining your motives as that panic-buying instinct kicks in, to make sure you’re coming from the right place.

Sing the chorus to your favourite song 

Along with washing our hands regularly, mental health clinician Dr. Shainna Ali wants us to think about the “mini investments” we can make in our mental wellness. Strategies such as deep breathing or singing the chorus to your favourite song can be surprisingly effective.

Get outdoors (if you can)

Mental health campaigner Bella Mackie, who recently stepped away from Twitter due to coronavirus anxiety, has a very simple solution for feeling better: getting outdoors. Just five minutes in nature is enough to significantly improve mood, but if quarantine prevents you from being in public spaces, you could always try your garden or backyard; in fact, houseplants alone can enhance feelings of happiness.

Don’t feel the need to censor yourself

Chef turned ultramarathon runner Latoya Shauntay Snell writes a lot around issues of body positivity and mental health. She says that we shouldn’t be filtering how we react to the coronavirus outbreak right now; and nor should we be judging other people on their reactions. Instead, we need to give everyone the time they need during this challenging period, and take the opportunity to connect; despite social distancing measures.  

Remember, it’s OK to be anxious 

Record-breaking paddleboarder and cancer survivor Lizzie Carr has been open about her mental health struggles in the past. Picking up on a similar theme to Latoya (above), she wants us all to know that it’s entirely OK to be worried about your health at this time. You don’t have to block your feelings out or feel ashamed about it: it’s just a normal response to uncertainty.

Try flipping your perspective

One last word comes from Californian therapist Lisa Olivera, one of the pioneers of the Instagram therapy movement. She’s here to tell us that every situation has another perspective to it; a glass that’s half full rather than half empty. Sometimes you just need a little prompt to know what that is.

Main image: Anthony Tran on Unsplash

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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for stylist.co.uk. Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.

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