How To Manage Anxiety In The Corona Epidemic

Image Above: Teresa Brooks

“How we lead ourselves this time is crucial. People need to be led well but they also need to master self-leadership and individual responsibility,” – Teresa Brooks

Business Coach and NLP Practitioner, Teresa Brooks, offers her tips on how to keep calm, maintain a healthy mindset and develop new habits during the continuing COVID-19 public health emergency – even with school-aged children in the house.

Teresa works with many female entrepreneurs running their own business to help balance career and parenthood, empowering them to achieve their goals and live happier, more successful lives.

In recent weeks and days she has seen sharply rising anxiety levels among her coaching clients as they struggle to come to terms with life, jobs, businesses, financials and overwhelming uncertainty during the Corona outbreak.

With uncertainty and fear setting in, she is turning to use more of her mental health tools in her coaching toolkit.

With schools and nurseries closed all over the country, Teresa wants to reach out to as many working women in the UK as possible and offer her professional advice for managing anxiety and keeping calm in uncertain times.

Her practical tips include:

Creating new daily schedules and routines.

Setting out agreements with partners and children.

Ensuring there are some rules and guidelines but relaxing others.

Accepting things are not the same and being adaptable.

Deciding what’s important and what’s not.

Limiting your ‘feed’ of media if it makes you anxious.

Teresa says: “Coronavirus has come as a huge shock to us all. We have been asked to pivot and make unfamiliar, extraordinary and very uncomfortable changes to our normal behaviours while, the same time, stay calm, mindful and practise the new habits of mind and emotional management.

“People aren’t used to doing this at the best of times, let alone under intense circumstances and they don’t have the psychological tools to manage it. It’s already taking its toll on our mental health.”

“Women are struggling especially. Many struggle with balancing working, domestic work and child care with mum guilt under normal circumstances and now many will be asked to continue to do all of that with children in the house.”

Self-care is the absolute priority here for everyone, in order to preserve energy and remain able to cope and be productive and resilient, using a healthy mindset. Our brains switch into survival mode and we need to be more aware and present in our bodies and senses now, rather than our conscious minds.”

How to Keep Calm in the Corona Crisis: Teresa’s Top Five Tips

  1. Keep to your usual routines

Keeping a rhythm is key. We are creatures of habit so as far as is possible, whatever you do normally, do it. Get up at the same time, eat meals at the same time, go to bed at the same time.

My daughter, Mia, (12) and I have made a plan and talked as she is really struggling with not seeing her friends daily. She also knows that just because the schools have had to close it does not mean it’s a bonus holiday!

On schooldays, at home, she will be up at the same time and be ready for the online check in with her friends, do her work and they have planned group work together too. She will have breaks at the same time and finish at the same time and I will help keep that on track with the new routine and home timetable.

P.S. Relax the usual rules, don’t try and keep a strict order or regime too much as you will end up in constant conflict;  don’t worry about phones and tablets or screen time. The most important thing is that you can support your child’s wellbeing. As long as the work is done and you can support their wellbeing, that is the most important thing.

Children need rhythm and routine – so keep to lesson times and break times even when they are at home. It will be more difficult with younger children, of course, who will not be able to manage in the same way as older children can, but if your child is at nursery, try and keep to the schedule followed in that setting as well.

  1. Live in the moment. Learn how to be mindful.

When we can access a state of peace, the mind is calm and quiet. So it’s about finding what silences your mind. This is about focus. Take a focus on something which isn’t YOU. If you don’t, you can feel like you are imploding.

It can be anything: gardening, cleaning, cooking, writing, learning, listening to music, singing, helping children with work, games, cards – anything that isn’t focused on your feelings.

Concentrate, meditate and learn to breathe effectively, find online resources to follow and guide you. Limit your feed of media if it makes you anxious. Limit anything that triggers your fears or concerns. Engage with others who uplift you and select people who are positive and funny too. Humour is an incredible tool for changing state so use it! Don’t forget it’s OK to laugh when things are bad, you don’t have to BE doom personified!

  1. Do not go down the rabbit hole

You find what you seek: if you choose to see the dark in any situation, that’s all you’re going to see. It’s important to train yourself not to go inwards and seek the light instead. A good visualisation I use with my clients is to ask them to imagine they are a rabbit. When they start to feel anxious or worry about Corona virus, they visualise burrowing deeper into a rabbit hole.

It’s very dark in there and there is no way out, you’re just tunnelling deeper – so I then ask them to visualise turning round and coming back up to the light, up to the top, jumping out of the rabbit hole, sitting calmly on the grass again in the sunshine and breathing, observing space and nature.

This calms the mind and the mind actually believes what we tell it so it will have a powerful impact. Once we realise the power of what we believe, how we choose to respond to all this is key and we can only ever be in control of ourselves.

The mind doesn’t realise what’s visualised and what’s real, so you can trick it easily once you know how!  Remember that if you believe it, it’s true to your mind – regardless of whether it’s fact.

  1. Set a good example to your children

This is a pivotal, historic moment – the equivalent of a world war – and what you show your children now will sink in deeply in their future lives and beliefs.

We are the greatest teachers to our children especially in terms of what we believe and that mental development will be programmed into your child by the time they are 7. If you have younger children, understand what you show them now is what they will believe to be true regardless of whether it is or not.

Think of yourself as a teacher, and consider what you are teaching? Are you teaching fear and panic, trauma and that change is bad and/or impossible? Or are you teaching the benefits of adaptation and positivity, how to deal with pain, and how to develop strategies to cope with challenging situations. Are you teaching them that they WILL be OK, and that OK isn’t always OK but that it will be. You may need to think about how you might handle grief, stress and possible impacts with them too. They are the future generation and it matters how we behave and act to them now.

  1. Realise that challenging times are an excellent time to be better.

We mostly believe we are safe, but the truth is that our existence is always on a knife edge. It’s ALL about our perception. Learn to accept that everything – the virus and its effects – is not about you and – quite simply – get out of your own head.  Decide how you want to look at the situation – positively, seeking the light or negatively, seeking the dark: because that’s what you will see, be and feel. Seek the light.

NLP tools help to visualise and create what we want, changing the way we have programmed ourselves to think. Our minds will do what we programme them to do, so this is the time to get your mindset under control like never before.

The spread of Coronavirus is a challenging and extremely worrying event. But if you view it as a chance to develop yourself, it can empower you and can transform how you do everything and that will give you tools for life, way beyond the pandemic.

Teresa added: “How we lead ourselves this time is crucial. People need to be led well and they need to master self-leadership and individual responsibility.”

“The majority of the nation are not coaches and don’t have the mindset tools which can make their lives easier during challenging times. These tools are incredibly useful when we are on this rollercoaster so as a trained coach and as a self-employed business woman and single mother of one holding all financial responsibility too, here’s my advice to help reset your mind, find new ways and keep your anxiety under control to survive in uncertain times”.

“All we can control in uncertain times is ourselves and how we respond. Keeping control of our own minds, thoughts and bodies is key to calmly navigating any difficult and uncertain times.”

“Your brain doesn’t understand coronavirus. It only perceives threat and its function is to keep us alive so it’s how we manage the fight or flight responses that will make the difference. Cortisol (stress hormone) is released when we feel anxious, worried and upset and this floods the body and can reduce our immune systems – so it is actually crucial to manage stress and stay relaxed.”