Managing Your Physical and Mental Wellbeing in Uncertain Times
Morson Wellbeing Q&A Series
Episode 1: How do I stop myself from feeling overwhelmed during this time?
Over the next few weeks, Morson Group health, wellbeing and engagement partner, Heather Deering, will be presenting a series of informative videos in response to common health and wellbeing questions being asked of her by our employees.
Our wellbeing series will allow us to support our wider community during, and beyond, this uncertain time.
In this first episode, Heather discusses how to cope during times of crisis and guides us through some practical steps we can take to limit feelings of helplessness and being overwhelmed...
These past few weeks have been really strange for everyone, including me. It’s an incredibly challenging time for everyone’s health and wellbeing and with that in mind we produced a guide to ‘Looking After Your Physical and Mental Wellbeing During COVID-19’. If you haven’t been able to access the guide, you can download your copy here.
The guide covers several wellbeing topics, from looking after your mental health to physical and nutritional suggestions, but people have also been approaching me directly to ask questions.
I really encourage this and I’m filming this wellbeing series to provide answers to some of the most frequently asked questions, so that everyone can access the insights.
In this first session, I want to cover a topic that is affecting all of us… how do I stop myself from feeling overwhelmed during this time?
Firstly, you can’t stop yourself from feeling anything, this is an overwhelming time, one that none of us have ever experienced in our lifetime. It’s normal to feel anxious, worried or sad about the events that are going on. You should never feel bad or guilty for feeling this way. That being said, there are things that you can do to stop these feelings from becoming overwhelming and protect your mental health.
In the week that the coronavirus response was ramping up over Europe, I was glued to the news and social media to get every update that I possibly could. This continual checking of the news and desperate feeling of a need to stay up to date with every development are ways that we try to assert control over events which are seemingly out of our control. However, by doing this you are likely to exacerbate anxiety, and this was particularly true for myself. If this is something that resonates with you, you may want to reassess how you are consuming news and whether this is actually helpful to you.
It’s important that we do stay up to date to ensure we’re following governments guidelines and acting responsibly in order to protect ourselves and those around us. But, it’s possible to do this in a way that limits our exposure to information overload, which is a direct contributor to making us feel overwhelmed. Here are my simple recommendations to help you limit the impact of, anxiety inducing, information overload:
- Turn off news notifications
A really simple technique, but so important. Turning off your notifications means that you control when you access the news. In doing this, you’ll choose to seek out information rather than being passively provided with it when you may be relaxing or trying to actively disengage, before sleep for example. So, try choosing times of the day where you allow yourself to access the news. Personally, I’m just trying to tune into the daily press conference as I know that will give me the key information that I need to stay informed and stay safe.
- Think about where you’re getting your information from
In a world of sensationalism and ‘fake news’ remember to question the sources of the information you’re being provided with. Make sure that what you’re reading or watching is reliable. There’s a lot of questionable reporting at the best of times and social media is a major contributor to this. Information reported by Facebook or sent in a WhatsApp group may not be reliable or accurate. These news items are often shared by friends, family or colleagues with the best intentions, but misinformation or sensationalised information is not helpful. Ensure that you’re consuming news from credible sources such as gov.uk, The World Health Organisation or the NHS.
- Seek out the good news stories
Good news is out there. A lot of the major news outlets have channels dedicated to good news stories as well as Instagram channels (however, remember my above point about being aware of credibility). As awful as these situations are, they can also bring out the best in people and you can’t underestimate how uplifting that can be. On that note, something that can really help to anchor us is looking for ‘silver linings’ and ‘bright sides’, no matter how seemingly insignificant they can be. A lot of mental health charities and mental health organisations have issued ideas and guidance on how to remain positive and one thing that is often suggested is a ‘gratitude journal’. In a ‘gratitude journal’ you note down one or two things each day that you are grateful or thankful for – if this seems too far out of your comfort zone just try to focus on those positives in your mind.
Global crises such as this can make us feel helpless, and that in itself can make us feel overwhelmed. But, we can all play a part in making the world a better place right now. Things as small as not participating in panic buying, respecting physical distancing and thinking about the quality of the information you’re sharing on social media all helps to ensure the emotional and physical safety of others. If you are able, consider engaging in volunteering. Volunteering can take many forms; from donating to food banks, to checking on elderly people in your community to see if they need any help and volunteering to be a phone buddy for an isolated person. Many councils have set up emergency volunteering schemes, community groups are organising help via Facebook and of course there is the NHS Volunteer Responders scheme which will be invaluable in the fight against coronavirus.
Having said that, it is enough to only look after one person during this crisis and it’s OK if that person is you. So, find the things that are going to help you relax; exercise, baking, reading, binge watching Netflix, now is the time for us all to practise self-care and concentrate on the things we enjoy, but may not ordinarily have the time to do.
Remember, we still must exercise balance. A startling report showed that in March, supermarket sales of alcohol outsold groceries. This just serves as a reminder to be mindful of the coping mechanisms your using at this time, and whether these will serve you and your family well in the longer term.
Finally, something we can easily forget when we’re in the midst of this, is that it is temporary. One day, hopefully sooner rather than later, daily life will return to normal.