We know that change can be scary, especially when it is unplanned. Within a week, all of our lives have been turned upside down and we are being asked to adapt quickly to ‘the new normal’. It is incredibly easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed due to what is happening.
Science has a lot to say about how our brains react to sudden events and why it is easy to feel overwhelmed. This blog post, sums it up pretty well we think. Our brains are having to cope with a lot right now but the good news is, that they can adapt and what might seem an impossible task today, will be easier to do tomorrow.
As students you are used to undertaking research in order to understand a subject. Many of you will have already read a number of posts about how to get through this stressful time. Great, but here at eCampus NZ, we like to think that we are more than an online education provider, we care about the welfare of those who choose to study with us. So, with that in mind, here’s a list of things that we are also doing to help our brains adjust to what we are being asked to do to stop the spread of Covid-19.
- Look for the good. The news is heavily weighted with negative statistics and sad events at the moment. While it is important to acknowledge the challenges we face, we also need to let our brains know that the game is far from over and that good news also exists. Search for it too and celebrate the wins, however small you think they might be at the time.
- Change the language. You are not stuck at home or in lockdown. You are safe at home and protecting others at the same time. Changing the language can instantly turn a negative emotion into a positive action.
- Make time to experience happiness. In order to maintain physical health we need to do things that make our body feel good and perform well. The same applies to maintaining good mental health. Make sure you take some time every day to laugh and experience happiness.
- Maintain connections. We are being asked to observe physical isolation from others not social. It is more important than ever to talk to others and maintain a sense of social connection. You are not alone in this.
- Keep your daily routines. We have already established that the brain takes a while to adapt to sudden change, so it is important that you try and keep to the daily routines that don’t involve leaving home. This can be as simple as sticking to your normal meal times and bedtime.
- Focus on what you can control and acknowledge what you can’t. We can’t change the weather but we can dress accordingly is a good analogy for the challenge we are currently facing. We can’t control what others choose to do, but we can choose how we react and our own actions.
- Limit the negative talk. As previously mentioned, maintaining good mental health requires limiting the amount of negativity you experience in daily life. If you are finding it hard to talk to some people because of their constant negativity then it is ok to limit your interaction with them (without isolating them completely as it sounds like they need help with their “inner voice” too). Ask yourself “is this conversation helping or harming me in my mission to maintain good mental health right now” and if it isn’t make your excuses and disengage from it for a while.
- Help yourself by helping others. Helping others makes you feel good and connected. There are many things you can do to help your community stay strong at the moment that will not also put you at risk of contracting or spreading the virus.
- Take a break from Covid-19. You might not be able to take a holiday somewhere warm right now but you can give your brain a break from it all by focusing on something other than the virus. This can be as simple as turning up the sound of your favourite song and dance around the room like no-one is watching. Do a crossword, jigsaw puzzle or doodle for a while. Activities that allow your brain to switch off its inner voice and focus on something else is a good thing. Although we do not recommend that this activity includes copious amounts of alcohol or drugs.
- Have a ‘timed wallow’. It is also ok to feel sad and a little overwhelmed right now. But as any good therapist will tell you, it is ok to spend some time wallowing, just don’t unpack a suitcase and live there. Maintaining good mental health will help us all get through this temporary disruption to our lives. If you feel you can’t talk to your friends and family about how you are feeling then please call or text 1737, anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – to talk with a trained counsellor. It is a free service and exists solely to help.
For most of us, the challenges we face right now are not something that we have experienced before. The good news, however, is that our ancestors did and we can learn a lot from their experiences, the wins and the losses. Society has survived pandemics before and we will do so again. Collectively, ‘We’ have got this.