The coronavirus situation is serious, but we should stay calm, not worry too much. This is reasonable, but difficult to implement, if presumably even the most mentally stable people have to make a real effort to push the Covid19 Panik off the mattress at night.
For people who are mentally ill, social isolation and the fears that are currently expressed everywhere due to the pandemic are particularly hard.
But there are ways to do something about it – for all of us. We collected recommendations for those affected and spoke to a psychologist.
Stick to the facts!
Anyone who is currently picking up their cell phones will be flooded with information about Corona on all channels. However, not all of it is scientifically sound and is capable of expanding knowledge about the pandemic. To counter panic, you should only stick to places that offer serious information. For example, the World Health Organization, ministries or scientists from recognized institutions. Now is not the time to have the world explained to you by videos from TikTok influencers. “Facts can minimize fears,” explains the WHO.
“When people spread fake news on your timeline, you can easily mute them for a few days and then you don’t have to read their posts. Or just delete them completely. It is normal and perfectly appropriate to be unsettled by the current situation. Undifferentiated, populist and fictitious articles on the subject quickly make the uncertainty panic, ”says clinical psychologists.
Limit your time on social media!
As important as it is to feel informed, it can also be important to consciously limit your own thirst for information. Those who are afraid often try to keep these fears at bay with more and more information. This is currently counterproductive. Sit down and take a short window or two a day to find out about the pandemic. And no more.
Social networks are now absolutely important so that people don’t fall on the ceiling at home. however, we should primarily use them to cultivate contacts that we find pleasant.”
Against loss of control!
Anyone who is mentally ill or can be quickly suppressed by fears knows the feeling of losing control. Problems become huge, seem overwhelming and you yourself feel like a speck of dust that is whirled around. Helpless, abandoned, passed out.
Psychologists, therefore, advise concentrating on things that can be controlled in times of loss of control. Focus on very practical behaviours that you have in your hand to do something about the pandemic. So wash your hands as often and thoroughly as recommended, keep your distance from other people, avoid large crowds and stay at home as much as possible.
Suddenly everyone has a lot of time. And unfortunately, we use them far too often to ponder. Depression therapy often works to keep brooding to a minimum so that worries and fears don’t suddenly appear excessive. I think the strategies you can find on Google by searching for ‘brooding stops’ can help people who are now sitting at home because of Corona and are twiddling their thumbs.
Yes, of course, that’s easy to say and hard to do. But there are at least a couple of ways that we can all try out when we realize that the panic is rising within us. For one thing: breathe calmly. Concentrate on your own breath for a few minutes and consciously breathe in and out. Progressive muscle relaxation, autogenic training or meditation exercises can also help.
Meditation apps are totally popular right now. However, I strongly doubt that really many people got further than the app download. Now would be a great time to sit down and get started every morning.
Depressed people, in particular, are strongly advised to do physical activity by psychologists. Exercise is crucial for our mental wellbeing. So if you now have to do without regular visits to the gym or sports course, you will lose an important pillar of self-care.
And even if you would actually prefer to do indoor spinning or Thai boxing: give yourself a jerk and try something different. Jogging and cycling are also good, especially now that the sun is shining and the temperatures are warmer. Walking can also be good. And on YouTube or in countless apps you will find instructions for home sports, from yoga to training with your own body weight.
Maybe one of the best things would be: Everyone gets a dog. The movement then comes automatically and you are constantly in the sun and fresh air. Of course, you should also be aware of the responsibility that a pet brings.
Stick to your routines!
When everyday life is mixed up and your own routines are dropped, it can be quite destabilizing for many. Therefore: Try to stick to your routines as best you can. If you a self-employed working from your home office: get up at the usual time, get ready as if you were going to work, keep your eating and sleeping times. And take notice of the appointments that you would otherwise make. Just make digital dates out of it.
Security and stability are important for most people with and without previous mental illnesses. Predictability lowers fears.
Against the stigma!
Those who are affected by Coronavirus themselves or who have friends who are affected may also have started to suffer from stigmatization. The WHO, therefore, recommends that all people infected with corona should not be referred to as “corona victims” or “corona cases”, but as “people with corona” or “people who are being treated for corona”.
Get help and help others!
For many mentally ill people, asking for help is very, very difficult. To tell other people that they are not well. That they have psychological problems. The appeal of psychologists, in particular, is now: say it! Talk to friends, write about your fears on social media, share your concerns and ask others for help.
“I am excited to see how psychosocial and psychotherapeutic care will develop over the next few weeks. Hopefully, the health insurance companies will come up with unbureaucratic solutions, for example when it comes to whether outpatient psychotherapy can exceptionally be carried out on the phone.
In addition, it is now of course absolutely important that everyone activates their social resources. Call your friends if you feel uncomfortable. They’re probably sitting around at home too. And very important: call your friends who may not be so plump and take care of them. Just be especially nice to each other in the next few weeks.
It is also good for you to help other people. Offering and providing help supports one’s own mental health. So, if you can, offer help. Maybe with a note in the hallway or with a phone call to relatives. At the local level, many people are currently organizing help groups on social media. Maybe you can join such a group and offer your help to.