** A special thanks to Caz of Invisibly Me for contributing this piece. **
The pandemic has affected all of us in some way, whether emotionally, physically, emotionally, or through the sickness and loss of family and friends. It affects our daily life and adds an extra layer of stress to what we’re already dealing with. The fear and uncertainty take a toll on our mental and physical health, so it’s unsurprising many of us are finding these times overwhelming. Here are tips for easing the pressures of pain meets pandemic.
1. Limit Your News and Social Media
We can be perpetually bombarded with the negative and worrying news of late, whether it’s in our everyday conversations, on the TV, in newspapers, on the radio or on social media. We can also feel devoured by all things health, illness and pain if we’re connected in those spheres online, too. If you’re finding it all overwhelming, then take a step back and disconnect for a while. Perhaps limit your intake of the news and social media because while it’s good to stay up to date with what’s going on in the world, there needs to be some balance.
2. Get Distracted
Distractions can be beneficial in times of difficulty. Many people rely on them as a factor in illness and pain management, providing us with a little respite even if only briefly. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, get out of your head and the situation for a while and lose yourself in something else. A good book, TV series, film, gardening, jigsaw puzzles. Whatever floats your boat. Whether you can get ten minutes of escape or a few hours, it’ll help reduce the tension.
3. Talk It Through
We’ve probably all heard the motto of how ‘it’s good to talk’ and a ‘problem shared is a problem halved’. You might want to share a meaningful conversation about how you’re feeling or just chat about the weather, but sometimes it’s good just to connect. It may not be possible face to face during lockdown, but technology can be very helpful here and online friendships are just as valuable as offline ones. Try a video chat, give your family a phone call, reach out on forums and WhatsApp, or join in with Facebook groups. Always seek professional support if you need it, too. Connections are an important part of our social wellbeing and you don’t have to go this alone.
4. Ground Yourself In Nature
Getting out into nature can have a range of benefits, but the pandemic and lockdown make it harder for many of us to get outside. If you can go out safely, which is particularly great if you have a garden, then try to take a few more outdoor breaks when you can. Open the windows and let in the fresh air. Slow down and take pleasure in the small simple joys, like the green grass, the beautiful blossoming flowers, the insects and birds. Feel yourself connecting with the natural world and being at one with nature, realizing that you’re grounded and part of something bigger than yourself. If you have a pet, spend more time with them and allow their carefree nature uplift and calm you.
5. Get Active
Don’t worry, I’m not talking about sweating it out with a home workout or going for a run. If you find yourself burning up with an issue or cause you’re passionate about, make your voice heard. With what’s going on in the world coupled with what’s going on with our health, we can start to feel helpless and as though we have no control. Just making small steps in speaking out can give us back a little control and make us feel useful and heard. Maybe you can write to your MP, write a blog post on an issue you want to raise awareness of, Tweet about it or sign an online petition.
6. Mental Refresh
There’s a lot to be said for the activities and techniques that can calm, declutter and clear your mind. Exercise is one way in which to boost endorphins and clear your head, but that’s not possible for everyone. Breathing exercises, yoga and meditation can beneficial for many, whether you’ve got five minutes or an hour to spare as regularly or infrequently as suits your lifestyle. There are plenty of self-help books, online guides, apps and videos that can help. Likewise, mindfulness is something you can build into your day to day life, just by gradually being more mindful as you go about your activities. The key is to acknowledge how you’re feeling and let your thoughts come to the surface without trying to judge or push them away. Breathe and slow things down. This can be an excellent way to reduce a little tension and manage stress.
7. Be Proactive Against The Virus and Your Pain
It’s true that you can’t control government decisions, you can’t control how others behave, and you can’t always control your body and your health, but you can take steps towards being proactive. When it comes to the virus, try to take steps in creating routines for hygiene and cleaning, make sure you have all the products required, and get on top of the things you can do to protect yourself and your family the best you can. That’s all you can do. Try your best and do what you can when you’re at home and if you go out. When it comes to pain, what proactive steps can you take? This might just mean making sure you’ve got the tools you need, like ice-packs, heat pads, warming gels, medications and so on. Do you need to get anything else or re-order medications? Can you adapt your routine to better pace your days? Can you adjust how you do things to reduce the strain you’re putting on your body and give yourself more time to rest? By being proactive we can start to take back a little control and feel more confident during these uncertain times.
8. Practice Self Care
Self-care has a tendency to go out the window when we need it the most. Remember both the big and meaningful, and the small and superficial elements that self-care can entail. Show yourself you matter and that you’re worth it. Take care of your body, nourish it with good food, moisturize, indulge a little, and do the things you enjoy rather than just the things on your to-do list. Show yourself you are important by saying no when you want to, telling the critical inner voice to go away, assert yourself when necessary, and ask for help when you need it.
9. Create A Comforting Environment
The need for cleanliness can pique OCD, and the feeling that everything is out of our control can send us into a tailspin. Instead, focus on the things you can do. Our environment is an important factor to consider, perhaps all the more so during lockdown. Try to create an environment that feels clean, safe, warm, cosy and comfortable. We may never get it quite how we want it because the situation doesn’t allow for it, like how we can’t instantly move to somewhere much bigger or nicer, and we might not be able to afford renovating or getting the new homewares that we’d like. Look to the smaller things, like making sure the floors are clean and re-arranging some furniture, change your sheets, organize the drawers, shake things up a bit and make the areas more practical, pleasant and ergonomic.
10. Find Reasons To Smile
What’s something you enjoy doing? What things bring you a sense of joy, even if just a little? Make time for those things. Try to find the light in a situation and laugh about it. Search out the funnies, whether they’re memes or YouTube videos, just for a little light entertainment to break up your day. Laughter is a great medicine.
You can find Caz on her blog at InvisiblyMe, on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.