Dr Eddie Murphy: Navigating change in a Covid-19 world

Advice column with Operation Transformation psychologist Dr Eddie Murphy

Dr Eddie Murphy: Navigating change in a Covid-19 world

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The challenge for us is about living with coronavirus; living with and emerging from uncertainty.

I have been assisting organisations and companies as they reboot and reemerge from lockdown. What’s really noticeable is the levels of stress that still prevail. Over 80% of people had levels of stress, with over half indicating moderate to high levels of stress.

Stress

It is normal to be worried or to feel stressed during this difficult time, but there are many things we can do to help us mind our mental health and wellbeing. There is some great advice on www.gov.ie.

The spread of coronavirus is a new and challenging event. Some people might find it more worrying than others.

The good news is that the world’s medical, scientific and public health experts are working hard to contain the virus. Try to remember this when you feel worried. Most people’s lives will change - but remember that in time, it will pass.

Signs and Symptoms of Stress

* increased anxiety

* feeling stressed

* finding yourself excessively checking for symptoms, in yourself, or others

* becoming irritable more easily

* feeling insecure or unsettled

* fearing that normal aches and pains might be the virus

* having trouble sleeping

* feeling helpless or a lack of control

* having irrational thoughts

Managing Mental Wellbeing

Keeping a realistic perspective of the Covid-19 situation based on facts is important. Stay informed but set limits for news and social media. The constant stream of social media updates and news reports about coronavirus could cause you to feel worried. Sometimes it can be difficult to separate facts from rumours. Use trustworthy and reliable sources to get your news.

On social media, people may talk about their own worries or beliefs. You don’t need to make them your own.

Too much time on social media may increase your worry and levels of anxiety. Consider limiting how much time you spend on social media. If you find the coverage on coronavirus is too intense for you, talk it through with someone close or get support.

Keep up your healthy routines

Your routine may be affected by the coronavirus outbreak in different ways. But during difficult times like this, it’s best if you can keep some structure in your day. It’s important to pay attention to your needs and feelings, especially during times of stress.

You may still be able to do some of the things you enjoy and find relaxing. Try exercise regularly, keep regular sleep routines, maintain a healthy and balanced diet, avoid excess alcohol, practice relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises, read a book

Search for online exercise or yoga classes, concerts, religious services or guided tours, or improve your mood by doing something creative.

Stay connected to others

During times of stress, friends and families can be a good source of support. It is important to keep in touch with them and other people in your life. If you need to restrict your movements or self-isolate, try to stay connected to people in other ways, for example through email, social media, video calls, phone calls, and text messages. Remember that talking things through with someone can help lessen worry or anxiety. You don't have to appear to be strong or to try to cope with things by yourself.

Try to anticipate distress and support each other

It is understandable if you feel vulnerable or overwhelmed reading or hearing news about the virus. Acknowledge these feelings. Remind yourself and others to look after your physical and mental health.

Control the Controllables

I think about three circles – our circle of control, our circle of influence and our circle of concern. When our headspace is in the circle of concern we may experience more distress. It’s better to focus on our circle of control. In this space we can wash our hands, utilise social distancing, have good cough etiquette and use face coverings in public spaces.

Be assertive if people step into your space. Ask assertively: ‘please step back remember social distancing’. My key takeaway is stay in the controllable circle – here is where we can best navigate these strange waters.

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