LOOKING AFTER OUR EMOTIONAL WELL BEING DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
This page looks at ways to maintain emotional stability during the pandemic. Part I explores how to look after our Minds & Bodies to maintain psychological well being, particularly the management of worry and anxiety. Part II (at the bottom of the page) comprises a list of virtual activities available. Part II is being updated regularly and new material is being added to the list to be enjoyed during the lock down, so keep checking for new activities, podcasts and more.
We hope you find it useful.
(Last updated 7 June 2020)
PART I – MAINTAINING PSYCHOLOGICAL WELL BEING
Tolerating uncertainty is essential for our emotional health but some of us can struggle with it (cf. Alain de Botton podcast Part II). It is a normal human response seeking information and knowledge as a way of bridging the unknown. Knowledge can be a source of comfort as it helps prepare and plan for the future. Yet, despite our ability to plan for many possible outcomes, we are never fully in control of anything due to the myriad unforeseen circumstances that can unfold. This is perhaps a reason why so many of us cling onto behaviours that provide a sense of control, even if contrived. However, such coping behaviours can subsequently become problematic when unchecked (e.g. excessive exercise and focus on healthy eating can lead to the development of an eating disorder, as drinking alcohol to relax can lead to an addiction).
The current Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic has taken the world by surprise. Although information abounds in the news, via well meaning (or sometimes not so well meaning) internet posts or social media, very little is actually known about it or what will happen next.
Perhaps as a consequence many leaders have professed that “we are all in the same boat”. Whilst it is true we all face the same uncertainty, our journeys will differ significantly based on the quality and resources available on our “boats” and how we use these. Even if we all had exactly the same boat (say our primary needs of food, shelter and safety were met equally), the way we search for and use other resources available will depend on our past experience, ability and creativity (e.g. do we paddle, use sails or find a motor etc?). So how can our Minds & Bodies help us during this time? Or perhaps more precisely how can we better enable our Mind & Body to withstand and sail through the journey ahead?
A healthy Body is essential for a healthy Mind so it is important to ensure:
- Regular and balanced eating (with a maximum of 4 hours between meals)
- Regular exercise (approximately 30 minutes daily)
- Taking a good multi-vitamin complex. In particular Vitamin D is believed to boost the immune system (important as we are just coming out of a very wet winter and our resources may be depleted)
A healthy Body can do wonders for our Mind. However, under lockdown our routines may be disrupted likely leading to significantly more time available, whilst also feeling more socially isolated which may act as a potential trigger to loneliness, depression, anxiety, and over-reliance on maladaptive coping behaviours (e.g. excessive exercise or drinking etc). For some this can be a traumatic experience, in particular if we are also struggling with financial worries. Therefore, it is essential to proactively cultivate emotional stability during times of uncertainty. The guide to “Living_with_worry_and_anxiety amidst global uncertainty” may be a helpful tool in understanding how to maintain stable mental health.
Of note it seems important to:
– Firstly, limit exposure to news about the pandemic (mute notifications, choose trustworthy sources) then practice delayed worry whereby you:
- Set a fixed time daily, perhaps 30-45minutes before an exercise routine or at the end of the day
- For the remaining of the day try to postpone any worries you experience to your designated worry slot (if the ruminations are intense you may need to implement a couple of worrying slots until you feel more able to delay your worries). It might help writing the worries down so you know you won’t forget to worry about them when time comes
- Once you have worried about all plausible and non-plausible worries, take action if there is anything that can be addressed pragmatically. Set the remaining non-plausible (catastrophic?) worries aside and agree to come back and give them attention at the next worrying slot if they still need to be worried about
- When the ability to delay worries has been improved, try to continue delaying worrying until they can be postponed for at least 24 hours or more.
– Create a routine with distinct markers throughout your day, with activities & tasks including:
- Regular eating points
- Opportunities for meaningful social connection and interaction with friends and significant others. The use of social media can be helpful for remote meetings such as virtual social evenings, virtual cups of tea, virtual movie/book/music clubs etc
- Tasks which provide a sense of achievement such as accomplishing a work assignment, a house chore, admin, learning a new skill/language/instrument etc
- Activities that help relax and provide a sense of pleasure such as singing, dancing, watching a favourite movie, a relaxing bubble bath, mindfulness meditation, gardening etc
Although we are explicitly addressing difficulties faced by those in lockdown, different challenges can also be experienced by key workers, who may be feeling exposed, over-worked or having to make difficult home and work decisions during the pandemic. Regardless of the category your fit in, if you notice yourself feeling overwhelmed do reach out sooner rather than later to a trusted friend, to a family member or to a therapist. Many of us have provided remote therapy for quite a while and you will find that our ability to think together transcends any distance. If you would like to book an appointment do get in touch.
Below you will find a list of resources to try but there is plenty more out there. Have a go at different ones, (re)discover old and new interests and if you find anything interesting let us know so we can include in the list below for the benefit of others.
Lastly, it feels important to acknowledge that for a group of people the lockdown may feel like an indifferent experience or even a positive one. This may be for a variety of reasons but respite from societal pressures or the rat race can be a relief. If this is your case there is no need to feel guilty or ashamed. The lockdown may serve as an important opportunity to reflect on what you would like to carry on doing post isolation and what you will leave behind in your quest for the potentially freer existence that lies ahead.
“If we winter this one out, we can summer anywhere.”
Wishing you all much health,
The Oxford Mind & Body Team
PART II – VIRTUAL ACTIVITIES
Theatre and the Performing Arts
- Watch live theatre from home – “The Time Machine” by Creation Theatre (27 May-21 June)
- Listen to The Understudy, a live Radio play to support UK theatre
- The National Theatre is offering free home screenings starting on Thursdays
- Dear Ireland comprises 50 monologues by different actors addressing the future of the nation
- Watch a performance by Cirque du Soleil
- Online only dance performance in the Tanks at Tate Modern
Screen & Cinema
- Rent Fleabag for charity
- Explore the Picture House for movie streaming
- Watch 40 Days to Learn Film on the history of …… film, by Mark Cousin
- Listen to philosopher Alain de Botton on How to Fail and Embrace vulnerability in the age of coronavirus
- Listen to the new COMEDY podcasts Locked in Together
- Enjoy The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner (Coleridge), one of the “first great works of literature to speak to isolation and loneliness – and the possibility of redemption if we mend our ways”, where each stanza is read by a prominent artist.
- Full Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musicals every Friday at The Show Must Go On
Music: Pop & Classic
- Explore Live Stream Concerts
- Explore more live stream gigs
- Explore some of the best moments of One World: Together at Home curated by Lady Gaga
- Andrea Bocelli Music for Hope
- Explore the repertoire of the Royal Albert Hall Home
- The Royal Opera House OurHouseToYourHouse Series includes broadcasting of full-length productions every Friday night
- Berlin Philharmonic is offering free access to their archives for a full month
- London Symphony Orchestra are streaming a concert from their archives, Thursdays and Sundays on their YouTube channel
- Listen to the Manchester Collective recordings
Festivals & Celebrations
- The Social Distancing Festival is a community of artists who have come together to share their work in live streams
- Choose your next favourite item to visit when the Ashmolean re-opens
- Have a peak at Andy Warhol’s exhibition at Tate Modern
- Watch the curator’s tour to Audrey Beardsley’s Exhibition at the Tate
- Explore the link between Wellbeing and Art with the Tate
- Visit some of the best museums,galleries or concert halls around the world virtually
- Bring art and culture into your home through the BBC’s Culture in Quarantine
Towards the Artistic Endeavour
- Try some family activities as suggested by the Natural History Museum
Relaxation & Physical Activity
- Practice Mindfulness guided meditation
- Practice Yoga
- Dance Alone Together is an aggregation of live-streamed dance classes and a great opportunity to try new style
- Enjoy some classic stories available free at Audible
- Check out a list of resources compiled by It’s Nice That in support of Black Lives Matter
Around the world
- Seeing the world without leaving home
- Stargazing in Oxford
- Browse through the Harry Potter Hub
- Devote time for Niksen, the art of doing nothing which can greatly enhance creativity and problem solving
- Search your favourite artist, singer, player and see what they are up to. You might even be able to join an interactive exchange with them
- There are some good pet sharing websites out there where you may find great company for a walk whilst being incredibly helpful to house bound owners
Let us know if there is anything else we can add here and do share this link so others can also benefit from its content