Life at present is increasingly difficult. We all feel lost and scared as we face uncertainty in many areas of life. What we need are to find ways to cope as we adjust and that can be difficult when all seems overwhelming. Today, I wanted to discuss some coping tips in a bid to try and help. As a global community the loss, fear, anxiety and adjustment we are facing and experiencing is unprecedented, so how do we come to terms with it?
Let’s get down to some simple coping tips that can be implemented throughout the day.
You may think you don’t need to be reminded to breathe right? Well, this is a different type of breathing, one where we take note and relax. It can be done at any moment, anywhere.
There are two techniques that I find helpful. They can be used as grounding techniques to help reduce anxiety and to aid rest and sleep.
Relaxing Breathing, the 4,7,8 breathing technique is a rhythmic breathing technique that can help reduce anxiety. The simple point of this exercise is that by slowing down and focusing on our breathing, we are able to calm the parasympathetic nervous system and halt the fight or flight response.
Begin by placing the tip of the tongue on the roof of your mouth right behind the top front teeth.
The breath pattern is:
Step 1: Exhale, emptying the lungs of air.
Step 2: Breathe in quietly through the nose for 4 seconds.
Step 3: Hold the breath for a count of 7 seconds.
Step 4: Exhale through the mouth, pursing the lips, for 8 seconds.
This cycle can be repeated up to 4 times.
You can read more about this breathing technique here.
Used by Navy Seals this breathing technique is simple and effective. It is an excellent technique to ground yourself, calm your body and alert your mind in any situation.
Step 1: Breathe out, emptying lungs and hold for count of 4.
Step 2: Breathe in through your nose for count of 4.
Step 3: Hold breath for count of 4.
Step 4: Exhale through nose for count of 4.
This is one circut and can be repeated for 5-20 minutes, until you have gained the desired effect.
You can read more about Box Breathing here.
Let’s be honest, even taking note of our body and taking a few deep breaths can be helpful at times.
If the thought of meditation is a little off putting to you then don’t fear, it doesn’t need to be a long, thought out process. Short sessions can be very beneficial and a great way to introduce meditation into your lifestyle.
Youtube is also a wonderful library of meditation videos, both visual and audible.
Lastly, if you’d like a guide to a simple, quick 5 minute session, here’s one just for you!
Put Down The Phone
The constant news updates, media notifications can be anxiety inducing. Sometimes we need a break from all the noise and to simply switch off. I guess it’s important to know when to turn certain notifications off or put our phones down. Right now we can’t just pop out and fill our days in ways we might have previously to take our minds off stresses, therefore it’s all the more important to try to control how much of that stress we see constantly on our devices. Keep up with the news yes, but know when to switch off.
Stay In Touch
At the same time, technology can be our best friend. It’s a catch 22. During isolation it is important to try to stay in touch with people. Group chats, FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, voice notes, use them, lift each other’s spirits, share the burden, stay in touch.
Many with chronic illness and disability can struggle with connectivity however. Their symptoms simply make it too difficult at times or impossible. Bear with them, appreciate the simple notion of a text and what that can mean in terms of support.
Gratitude Diary /Journal
A gratitude journal is simply keeping a note of something you feel grateful for that day. It doesn’t have to be a big journal, simply a note in your phone. But the art of taking note of something you are grateful for allows you to focus on the good.
Research suggests that gratitude may be associated with many benefits for individuals, including better physical and psychological health, increased happiness and life satisfaction, decreased materialism, and more. – The Science Of Gratitude
Were you grateful because the sun shone? You were able to get food? Did someone show you kindness? Even just thanking someone mentally is a powerful act. Acknowledge these grateful notions and you’ll soon become aware of how powerful the act of gratitude awareness truly is.
Make a playlist. Play happy music. If you can enjoy music do. If you can dance, dance. Be silly, laugh. Spotify is free (with ads) and great for making playlists that you can share with friends and family too!
Take things day by day
“Mind over matter” (they say) God do I HATE this saying! Yes, a positive mindset can be incredibly empowering, however, one can simply not change the world through will. You can however, adjust. Appreciate how well you are coping. Everything, your whole world has suddenly changed and with it stands a great deal of uncertainty and stress. No one can wake up and think everything is great right now. What we can attempt to do is manage our little world to the best of our ability.
Accept that you can only deal with and change so much right now. Nobody, anybody, has the answers, so you don’t need to have them either. A great coping tip is accepting what you can and cannot change and that that is ok. Try and live in the moment and know that you are doing your very best.
A simple affirmation “I am doing my best” is empowering.
Whether it is reading your favourite book, watching a movie or a great TV series, learning a new hobby, switch off from the world. Sign up to audible and begin enjoying audiobooks. Discover podcasts. Rediscover podcasts. Become the next Paul Hollywood, learn to sew, write a play, have a bath, take 5 mins to yourself, scream (if needs be!) whatever it is, do it.
At the same time recognise that your productivity does not equal your worth. If you are someone who is less able to manage daily activities try not to feel pressured into needing to do more, simply because the world is seemingly now ‘at home’ and productively filling their days. It is always, pandemic or no pandemic, important to live within one’s boundaries, especially in terms of health. Simply do not change the small, positive things you do for yourself because of the current situation. Perhaps, they will need to be adapted to fit this current, new ‘normal’ but find a little something, suitable to your needs to make you feel good.
Perhaps one of the most important of coping tips: If you need to, allow yourself to cry. And don’t feel bad for it. What we are going through, collectively, across the world right now is unparalleled to anything in recent history. Take a breath, relax your shoulders and begin again.
Coping One Day At A Time
This will feel overwhelming. It is overwhelming. One thing that is true is that this will feel endless right now and that is scary. This endless nature, ‘no end date in sight’ feeling is something relatable to many of us within the chronic illness community and it is frightening. It’s ok, infact it’s important to acknowledge these feelings. This loss, fear, anxiety, stress and heartbreak. So we take each day as it comes. We try not to think of the ‘what if’s’, we take it day by day, moment by moment and we try to be kind and think of others during it all. This is how we, all of us can cope together. So let’s all be there for each other and let’s learn to cope together one day at a time.
One Last Little Bit Of Goodness
Sometimes we all just need to switch off from the hustle and bustle, from the noise of our daily stresses and that was before 2020. With that, right now, one of my favourite things to do is watch short good news videos that seem to be popping up everywhere! Don’t you love the resilience of the human spirit? One of my current favourites is Some Good News by John Krasinski (you know, Mary Poppins’ husband 😉 ) and this second episode is rather epic, enjoy!
If you’d like some TV series recommendations, then look no further than this post!
If you feel you need to speak to someone, please do:
Find more about mental health support at:
SANE provides emotional support, guidance and information to anyone affected by mental illness, including families, friends and carers.
¹Systematic Review of the Efficacy of Meditation Techniques as Treatments for Medical Illness. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.Oct 2006.817-832.http://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2006.12.817
²Buddha’s Brain: Neuroplasticity and Meditation. RJ, Lutz A. Buddha’s Brain: Neuroplasticity and Meditation. IEEE Signal Process Mag. 2008;25(1):176–174. doi:10.1109/msp.2008.4431873
³Meditative Thearapies For Reducing Anxiety: A Systematic Review And Meta-Analysis Of Randomized Controlled Trials. Anna Yusim and Justinas Grigaitis, Efficacy of Binaural Beat Meditation Technology for Treating Anxiety Symptoms, The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 10.1097/NMD.0000000000001070, 208, 2, (155-160), (2020).