Are you struggling to manage your thoughts and emotions about Coronavirus?
We are all used to routine, for me it’s walking my 3 dogs as soon as I get out of bed every day. They know it, I know it. For most of us, that’s how we live our lives, by the clock, with a routine. Now we are limited, routines changed . Time has stood still but maybe you find yourself longing for time to pass.
I too, as do many of you, worry about the future. Will I have a job, will I have my health, will my friends and family have theirs? Can I pay my bills? It comes in waves, if I wake at 3 in the morning, not much chance of my getting back to sleep. I even start to worry about the emotional well being of my dogs. If I do have a job to return to, what will it be like for my dogs to be suddenly left alone for hours again. And then the morning comes – how am I going to fill my day - again?
When new normal does return, I have to acknowledge that our old normal, will never be. When cocooned in my home, I feel safe and able to protect my family but what about those around me? Are they taking as much care as I am. My own daughter has Crohn’s disease, on immunosuppressive therapy and is particularly vulnerable. What to do for the best?
Any of this sound familiar? Or do you have your own personal version? Rest assured, this a natural and expected response to what the world is experiencing. We are all adjusting and the brain needs time to get its head around it.
Meanwhile we are often left to:
Catastrophise - assume we know the worst is going to happen. “One thing is bad, everything is bad”.
Over generalise - apply the same rule of thought to all thoughts. “There is no way out of this”
Filter – imagine and believe that the worst possible thing will happen. “Everyone will be so ill with this virus”.
Mind read – exaggerate the risk of danger, minimising the positives. “Anyone who catches the virus is doomed”.
Apply all or nothing thinking – if something bad happens just once, we may expect it to happen time and time again. “I know that “Dave” has caught it, so that means everyone will”.
Taking Control of Your Thoughts
These responses may be heightened right now but we can learn to manage them. Merely being aware of the pattern of your thoughts and the number of times they occur can be useful and can be the first step in taking control of our cognitions.
Start to monitor your thoughts, become more knowledgeable about why you may be thinking the way you are. Make a journal, share your thoughts and feelings with someone else. Look for any evidence which may or may not support your thoughts – remember to acknowledge the positives, recovery rates, acts of goodwill within the community, advances in treatment This can lead you to identify and then challenge any irrational thoughts.
The environment will indeed influence your thoughts but remember, they are just that - thoughts not facts. We have up to 70,000 of them each and every day. We don’t need to believe everything we think. They don’t need to impact on our emotions and behaviours.
Counselling Can Help
If you are struggling to come to terms with your fears about Coronavirus or other issues then talking to those close to you or a professional therapist can help. While I cannot offer face to face counselling sessions at this time I can still support you with telephone counselling and remote video sessions via Zoom, Skype, Facetime etc. I am a counsellor in Manchester so please feel free to contact me to discuss your options.