As the novel coronavirus outbreak continues to spread globally, stress, fear, and anxiety related to the pandemic are rapidly rising too. Feeling agitated and depressed in such a scenario, where news of misery and death has invaded our life, is quite normal. However, different people react differently to these situations.
Many of us might be feeling helpless, fearful, sad, angry, and overwhelmed during this stressful time. People with existing mental health problems, particularly, are finding it hard to deal with the situation. The World Health Organization, too, has recognized that the pandemic is generating stress, and has requested people to avoid watching, reading, or listening to news that causes feelings of anxiety or distress.
Various mental health professionals have suggested emotion-focused coping strategies to cope with stress during the coronavirus outbreak. This process involves adjusting your feelings and the emotional reaction to the problem rather than tackling the problem itself. Here, we list out a few emotion-focused coping techniques that will enable you to handle excessive stress during this epidemic more effectively.
Many people still don’t realize the benefits of journaling. Writing down your feelings allows you to control your challenging emotions better. You might be feeling an array of emotions right now – fear, stress, negative thoughts, etc. Dealing with all these feelings in your mind, as you are holed up at home, can be quite overwhelming. Journaling your thoughts honestly can be a great emotional outlet at this point. It will help you to clearly see what you are going through, enable you to achieve some sort of catharsis, and maybe find some solution too.
Try and write every day for about 10-15 minutes. Don’t worry if you feel your thoughts are too messy and complex. Just jot them down and make it a habit. Eventually, you are likely to feel less anxious as you keep pouring your thoughts out.
Meditation doesn’t only help you get in touch with your emotions it also enables you to attain a certain level of peace and calm if you do it properly. It would hence be perfect for those who are dealing with extra stress in the present situation. Nothing would be better than some peace and calm right now, isn’t it?
One of the most important aspects of meditation is to achieve mindfulness. In simpler words, you have to allow all your thoughts to flow seamlessly and accept them as they are. The vital thing here is to not let even the negative thoughts overwhelm you. A lot of us judge ourselves for the pessimistic and depressing thoughts we have. Through meditation, you will be able to sort all your thoughts and keep panic, fear, and uncertainties at bay.
Meditation is a great stress reliever but it must be practiced regularly. You might find it awkward or futile on your first few tries but stick with it and make it a habit. You will gradually find its benefits and it will be an activity for you to look forward to in these distressing times.
3. Cognitive reframing
Before we respond to a situation in panic and fear, it would be prudent to take a step back and think rationally about the situation. Certain circumstances demand that we try and reframe the way we think or look at something. It might be a nerve-racking event like the ongoing pandemic or something that is a massive challenge. Cognitive framing is a time-honored psychological technique that focuses on shifting the frame through which a person sees certain things. When that frame is shifted, the meaning for those things can change too along with one's thinking and behavior towards it.
Thus, looking at your ongoing stress from another perspective might help you lessen it. You have to learn how to find a silver lining in the current situation. For instance, you might not have been able to spend a lot of time with family because of your work and it was leading to some issues at home. But because of this lockdown, you are now allowed to give plenty of time to family and indulge in doing some activities together at home.
Simply put, you have to minimize the stressors you perceive in your life and hence ease the relaxation process.
4. Positive thinking
This does sound so obvious and clichéd, right? After all, you can’t just snap your fingers and start thinking positively from tomorrow. Well, you might not be an eternal optimist but giving your ongoing stress and challenges a positive spin will certainly help you manage them better. That does not mean, however, that being optimistic will completely solve your problems. However, a positive outlook will most certainly have a beneficial impact on your emotional wellness.
There are many practical ways in which you can add positive thinking to your life. Pay lesser attention to negative thoughts, remind yourself to try again, have some positive self-talk from time to time, recognize your success rather than just failures, and condition yourself to experience random moments of positivity are just some of them. Do remember that while it is important to think positively, you shouldn't go overboard with it either.
These are all easier said than done, of course. But it is still better than giving up altogether.
5. Sharing your feelings
In times like these, we tend to push or bury our negative emotions inside ourselves. However, doing so will cause harm to you in the longer run. Hence, you need to share your feelings with your loved ones. You may think that sharing your feelings with your family or friends about fear of the coronavirus pandemic won’t give you any solutions, so what’s the point? The point is that these negative emotions are gnawing at you and you simply have to let them out. Because if you keep them hidden they will eventually resurface in unhealthy ways.
Communicating your difficulties and talking about your feelings with a trusted loved one might make you realize that they too feel the same way. You may not be able to resolve the situation at present but sharing your common fears and anxieties will certainly feel like a heavy load is being lifted off your chest. Emotional support is very much essential right now for all of us and talking about your feelings with people who understand you will surely make you feel lighter better.
6. Seeking help from a mental health professional
You may fall into a situation where the tension, worry, and anxiety become too much for you to handle. The coronavirus epidemic might be particularly overwhelming for many and can lead to extreme distress and related disorders. When you can’t find any way to improve your situation then it would be better to seek help from a mental health professional. Coping with painful and stressful emotions right now isn’t easy for anyone. If it is getting too much for you, then there is no harm in getting help from a professional.
A trusted mental health professional will guide you in coping with your emotional concerns. They might not be able to offer any solution (if there isn’t any) but they will certainly understand your situation and offer proper and much-needed support.