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Date: Wednesday 15 April 2020
Author: Dr Patapia Tzotzoli

To help support our local businesses during this difficult time, we have invited businesses who support the Richmond Card to offer any guidance they have for local communities.

Meet Dr Patapia Tzotzoli, the founder of My Psychology Clinic where she works as a clinical psychologist specialising in adult mental health and couple therapy. Below Dr Patapia Tzotzoli talks about staying mindful and coping with the challenge of the coronavirus lockdown…

The coronavirus outbreak is causing many of us (at the very least!) disruption and unprecedented challenges in our daily lives. The coming weeks and potentially months are likely to become even more difficult as infections peak and we continue to practice social isolation and social distancing.

These circumstances may affect our mental health and wellbeing. But by staying mindful we can help ourselves keep it together and get through these difficult days. Below are some ideas for how we can achieve this.

Stay grounded

This exercise takes only a minute and it can help improve our everyday self-efficacy (that is, our belief in our ability to accomplish a task or succeed in specific situations) by helping us stay positive, set daily goals, and grow through reflection.

In a notebook, write answers to the following each day before getting out of bed:

  1. What am I grateful for? For example, “I’m grateful for my amazing friends.”
  2. What would make today great? For example, “Going to bed before 10pm would make today great.”
  3. My daily affirmation. For example, “I am resilient and resourceful, and I can find solutions to challenges.”

At night, before going to sleep, answer the following two questions:

  1. What three amazing things happened today? For example, “My partner made me breakfast.”
  2. How could I have made today even better? For example, “Today could have been better if I’d woken up before my children.”

Come back into your body

During these difficult times, we will inevitably have worrying thoughts that may affect how we feel and behave. When we notice these negative thoughts, we don’t need to turn away from them and we shouldn’t try to escape or avoid them. Instead we can stay tuned into our inner world and acknowledge our feelings.

At the same time, it can help to try to connect with your body and actively move it. There are several ways to do this and you can find one that suits you best. For example, try slowly pressing your fingertips, or stretching your arms and neck, or shrug your shoulders. Or you can push your feet hard down into the floor while straightening your back.

Moving in these ways helps us to gain as much control as we can over our physical actions, even though we cannot control how we feel.

Be kind to yourself

Over the coming weeks and months of social distancing and isolation, there will be moments in which we’ll experience shame for not being “good enough” at meeting our work goals, taking care of ourselves, or performing our role within the family.

When we feel this way, it’s important that we engage in positive self-talk and remain compassionate towards ourselves. During these moments, it can help to remember that although people don’t always talk about it, we all sometimes experience feelings of inadequacy and shame. It’s part of our shared human experience.

That’s why when we feel we aren’t “good enough” or that we’re failing, we shouldn’t suppress our feelings, or criticise and compare ourselves with others. Rather, we should use gentle words to refer to ourselves – be kind and understanding as if we are our best friend who loves us unconditionally.

Finally, it’s important not to over-identify with our worrying thoughts as this can draw us into negativity. Try to be fair and take a more balanced approach by acknowledging any failings but also celebrating successes.

Read more techniques on how to take care of your mental health during the coronavirus crisis.

Updated: 24 March 2021