COVID-19 Psychological Advice
Germs, hygiene, and fear of coughs and colds are a common concern in the absence of a pandemic, however, we feel that some specific COVID-19 Psychological Advice would help a lot of people.
Recent studies suggest over 1 in 40 adults suffer with this condition and an increasing number of children: 1 in 100. In the context of the COVID-19 outbreak these worries become problematic in the normal population also. Anxiety can be seen as the common cold of mental illness, and therefore more common than it is not!
It is always more helpful, and kinder, to conceptualise mental health difficulties on a continuum than a dichotomy; we all experience these difficulties to some degree and understanding that it is a normal response is critical in dampening the experience.
In addition to normalising mental health problems, considering them as a phase of illness or difficult can also be helpful in understanding them.
For example, in considering grief and loss, there is a well-established pattern of development and peak with resolution. With the COVID-19, the mental health response can be seen as a journey ranging from shock and disbelief to acceptance and change, but also the process of isolation itself is a recognisable phase from withdrawal to more insular thinking.
Of course, the natural instinct in such situations is to learn as much as we can, turning to Google searches and watching the news. This has the uncomfortable consequence of raising our anxiety and expanding our concerns.
The news does not really tell us anything new. It is is all a repetition of what has already happened, war, floods, plagues, famine. They are new, but the stories are age old and we have survived them continually.
Aside from the general health advice we should all be following at this time, here is some psychological advice to help you cope during these times:
- Reduce watching the news, online research, and social media use. Previous research has found that as people read more about public health concerns on social media, their perception of risk increased.
- To reduce the risk of negative mental health outcomes for children during confinement, encourage close and open communication with your children. Encourage consideration of facts rather than opinion.
- Create and follow a routine. Maintaining a daily routine can help both adults and children preserve a sense of order and purpose in their lives despite the unfamiliarity of isolation and quarantine.
- Maintain virtual connections with friends and family. Isolation can increase loneliness and inflame mental health problems. Reach out to those you know who are in a similar situation. Facebook groups have already formed to facilitate communication and support among individuals asked to quarantine.
- Examine your worries and aim to be realistic in your assessment of them. Be your own therapist and challenge any worries. Try not to catastrophise; instead, focus on what you can do and accept the things you cannot change.
- Be mindful of your communication style and relationship conduct, at times of high stress conflict and disagreements naturally ensure. Please refer to the In-Crisis Page for advice and contact numbers and look out for others who may be experiencing distress or domestic violence.
A term you may have heard referred to recently in line with the COVID-19 pandemic, is ‘moral injury’. A moral injury occurs when there has been a betrayal of what is morally correct, by someone who holds legitimate authority, and in a high-stakes situation.
A second factor is an instance of the concept of leadership malpractice. These confluences converge to create a trauma, which is conceptualised as a normal and reasonable response to an abnormal event.
It is probable you will hear more about this concept, which whilst is not new in the literature is becoming more accepted as a result of experiencing trauma, and it may be that testing and diagnostics along with insurance claims for damage to mental health will follow.
Finally, to end on a positive note, here is a reflective exercise you can complete alone or with your family in a short exercise. Since the onset of the lock down our lives have changed in fundamental ways; how we communicate, look after ourselves, tend to the practicalities and finances for example.
Your task is to consider three ways in which your life has changed for the better in this time of lock down. It may be that you are communicating more meaningful ways with you family or friends. Perhaps you are cooking and enjoying your food more. Perja’s you have saved money or given something practical up you never thought you could.
You may be reading more or resting or taken up a hobby. Your thinking may have changed in some way, perhaps you are more focused on tasks you have left to fester, or you may be more aware of delayed gratification and the joy that comes from simple anticipation.
Whatever your experience, focus on the positive and make it tangible to improving your well being and re-framing this into a positive learning experience.