Keeping Healthy in Mind, Body and Spirit in Times of COVID
‘Pandemics can be stressful’ is a statement on the website of the CDC (The US’s ‘Centres for Disease Control and Prevention’) and it is worth remembering that, to some extent, COVID-related anxiety is not only natural but helpful as it helps us to adopt routines that keep us safe.
However, we can all too easily find that we are worrying and becoming stressed about things that are out of our control – worries which do nothing to enhance our lives in any way. These worries can become a habit that it is near impossible to steer ourselves away from.
As the CDC states, stress during an infectious disease outbreak can cause the following:
• Fear and worry about our own health and the health of our loved ones, your financial situation or job, or loss of support services you rely on
• Changes in sleep or eating patterns
• Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
• Worsening of chronic health problems
• Worsening of mental health conditions
• Increased use of tobacco and/or alcohol and other substances
The NHS has devised ‘10 tips to help if you are worried about coronavirus’ – an excellent guide for all of us with regard to improved wellbeing which can be found on the NHS website. All ten tips are designed to improve our wellbeing in some way.
I am reminded of the Japanese word ‘Genki’ – which is often translated as ‘happy’ – such that a common phrase is ‘O-Genki desu ka?’ means ‘Are you OK? Or ‘Are you happy?’ However, the meaning of this word is a little broader, meaning something more like ‘healthy in mind, body and spirit?’.
Surely ‘keeping healthy in mind, body and spirit’ is a great goal to have during this pandemic and a goal that can not only sustain us now but enable us to better flourish when things return more closely to normal.
Based on the NHS’s 10 tips, here are 10 ways that therapy can help us to keep healthy in mind, body and spirit. Therapy can help us to:
– Make the most of social interactions and relationships, perhaps through gaining greater confidence and self-worth
– Talk about worries with someone other than a friend or family member
– Have the confidence to find ways to support and help others as this can benefit ourselves as well as others
– Feel prepared and able to cope rather than be overly burdened by concerns
– Break unhealthy habits and be motivated and keen to start healthier habits (Getting to whatever is for us a healthy weight and giving up smoking should perhaps be priorities during this pandemic)
– Get Covid-related health information in perspective, rather than allowing ‘Thinking errors’, such as ‘Catastrophising’ to add to our worries unnecessarily
– Managing our anxieties so that we concentrate of the areas of our lives where we have control rather than worrying about things that are out of our control
– Start or re-start activities that we enjoy in safe ways. Learning things is good for our mental health and can be fun. Many courses can be done online such as through the Centre of Excellence
– Focus on the present rather than dwelling overly on the past or daydreaming about the future
– Improve our sleep
Covid-19 continues to take its toll on people’s wellbeing. The CDC pointed out that even after recovering from this virus, we can have strong emotional reactions including:
– Mixed emotions, including relief
– Fear and worry about our health and the health of our loved ones
– Stress from the experience of having Covid-19 and monitoring themselves, or being monitored by others
– Sadness, anger, or frustration because friends or loved ones have fears of getting the disease from us
– Guilt about not being able to perform normal work or parenting duties while having Covid-19
– Worry about getting re-infected or sick again
The world has changed significantly from one year ago. ‘Pandemic’ was not a word that most of us, I am sure, greatly used in conversations. Perhaps one thing that is worth emphasising is that we have all been affected in different ways and have different emotional responses to events.
One of the strengths of therapy is that it is a bespoke therapy designed specifically for each individual client.