There is no denying the fact that we are in the midst of a global pandemic and that a particular coronavirus — COVID-19 — is devastating the world. This is a stressful time. It’s frightening. People are losing their lives, their loved ones, their income, their businesses. Once this is all over, life won’t ever be quite the same for many millions of people.
With buzzwords such as ‘social distancing’, ‘self-isolating’, and ‘lockdown’ being used regularly, it’s no wonder that experts are concerned there will be a rise in patients suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) as a result of coronavirus. The stress and anxiety they are currently feeling will stay with them long after ‘normal’ life resumes. It’s important, then, to minimize the risk of PTSD arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. It may not be easy, but the following ideas should help.
Stay in the Present
Staying or living in the present, also known as mindfulness, is a powerful tool when it comes to any trauma, and with COVID-19, it makes a lot of sense. There is an unprecedented uncertainty affecting the entire world, and this is what concerns many people. We have no way of telling when it will be over and when we can start living our lives normally again.
When you are able to stay in the present moment and take each day, or even each hour, as it comes, you can more easily cope with the anxiety that this situation is sure to be causing. Don’t think too far ahead because this will cause you upset and could trigger PTSD.
When being mindful, take the time to sit and relax. Try breathing exercises and meditation. Practices such as yoga can also be useful. The key to is keep yourself in the moment and not allow your mind to wander to frightening places.
Monitor Your Thoughts
The mind is a powerful thing and sometimes it can cause someone a lot of harm simply through thoughts rather than actions. Thoughts are enough to change anyone’s outlook, turning them from a positive person into a negative one, and this can lead to greater problems further on.
It is important to take note of your thoughts and feelings, as well as your emotions. Only when you are truly monitoring them and paying attention to changes will you know what is affecting you most. If you are triggered by watching news updates, by going on social media, or by seeing a neighbor constantly flout the lockdown rules, you must stay away from these triggers in order to keep yourself more positive and minimize the risk of PTSD.
Focus On What You Can Control
There is a lot going on at the moment that is entirely out of our control and we just don’t have the answers. Worryingly, no one else does either. It’s clear that this is something out of the ordinary and that PTSD could be triggered. In order to stop this from happening, you need to focus on something you can control, rather than the wider issues that you can’t.
Things you can control in your own life include:
- Your hobbies and staying focused on them
- Getting chores done around the house and making your home how you want it
- Writing a journal that includes your thoughts and feelings
- Communicating with your friends and loved ones (if you can’t do this physically, phone them, email, or use video calling)
- Giving yourself personal space and ‘me time’