Covid-19, Online Therapy, Self-Isolation and Support
Covid-19, Corona Virus, an unprecedented situation, measures never seen in peace times… whatever it is called or defined, there are many of us at home, with our routine interrupted and unsure of the length of the situation.
In this entry, I will first give a brief personal experience and what I am doing, which is unlike me, to deal with it and some things I do, which work for me, to deal with the situation. I also give some recommendations in regards online therapy at this difficult time. Finally, I will signpost you to some of the great resources that have been made available by other people or entities for support at the end of the entry.
1.- Personal Experience
The situation is happening as I type. It is a major catastrophe in many countries, and it is one of the saddest times I can recall. However, my stress levels are continuing to increase as wherever I turn there are more statistics, more predictions, further developments about the virus. This makes very difficult to focus on other things that matter here and now.
I have noticed there is a bit more tension in the house, as we are 3 and the space is reduced. Small things, that I may not even notice in a day to day, are now getting to me. I also made a “panic shopping” shopping list and by the time I got to the supermarket, everything was gone, which made me angry initially, but shortly after it turned up that the shop was re-stocked.
I was checking my phone more, I noticed this because I charge more often. I was reading about the local cases of corona virus, the situation in other cases. I was interested on “the curve”. This went on for a week or so, I think it built up slowly. Then the numbers from other countries and my newsfeed begun to divert me to other sources. All of a sudden, I realised I was snappier. This is my clue, my relapse indicator, for when I am stressed/anxious.
I decided to formulate the situation using a simple 5 areas model. You can do this reading my blog entry on CBT formulation by clicking here. You can download a 5 areas formulation templates from here (without prompts) and here (with prompts). Once I did this, I just identified what I was making that made the situation worst.
In my personal day to day life I have a rule, “If I am having bad weeks, just change them [that week or the next week]”. And that is exactly what I did. I am not checking my phone at all, in fact I put it aside and decided to check it 14 times a day, that’s once an hour.
I have not played online games for over 10 years. I arranged a game with some friends on Tuesday and Friday. I also had a virtual get together with them that week with some university friends. I took advantage of cheap flights for 2021, I may or may not be able to go, but for £200 for 3 people return to Spain for 2 weeks. This has introduced a positive experience in sight, as it makes me hopeful of the future.
I do not watch the news more than once, because they tend to repeat the same information. I found a 25 minutes workout for beginners with no equipment, and I do it every other day when I can. I usually listen to radio 6, I noticed there is CBBC radio, so I went for it. Now, I listen Postman Pat with my kid twice a day.
As I only leave the house when is essential, then I decided to create recipes with food that I had around that I had not used ie: I had orange food colouring, milk and rice. So, I decided to cook orange rice pudding. I have done the same with other things.
Ah! I forgot. I also have been working from home more. So, what I decided to dress up as if I was going to work, take my rucksack, jacket etc and tell my kid and wife “bye, I am off to work”. This keeps my routine going. I wake up at the same time and go to bed at the same time. I am not drinking more alcohol or staying up till late. I do not check my work emails more or contact work while I am not in the office hours.
I realise that there is nothing I can do about Covid-19 but follow the social distancing, hand washing and isolation guidelines. I know I can make things better in my day to day and build a routine that helps to make the most of this unprecedented situation.
I take, this may be obvious things for you. So, please do think I am simplifying the current situation. AS I said, I rarely give my personal view/routine, but this situation is impacting on many people. Therefore, you need to ensure that you take care of you mental and physical health. These are directly connected, as the saying goes in Latin “mens sana in corpore sano” (Satire X of the Roman poet Juvenal (10.356)), so do not forget to do and eat things to be physically and mentally healthy.
5.- Where to seek help
If you are undergoing therapy, and you are suggested to change to phone or virtual options, I would recommend you to do so. It is important to continue with support in these difficult times, when self-isolation might be needed.
If you are thinking to start treatment, because the current situation. Although it is a matter of opinion on whether to start therapy now, due to the current situation I would suggest you not to start 1-1 treatment if you feel that this situation has triggered your anxiety, because it is a normal reaction to an abnormal situation. However, if you were struggling with anxiety and this has worsened it, you may want to think about the commitment you are going to take. Contact your local mental health team or contact me for an informal free 10-15 minutes consultation by clicking here.
There are a lot of resources you can access for free at this difficult time. I have gathered some of them:
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, help sheet called FACE COVID. You may be aware of this type of intervention. This has been created to help people to deal with the situation. You can find the links to the resource beneath:
There is a Mindfulness based intervention offered by the Oxford Mindfulness Centre.
If you are a teacher and now have been asked to teach online, and are struggling to know how to do online teaching. This is a free course offered by Future Learn.
The UK government has a list of support information in regards, benefits and entitlements due to Covid-19.
I like Martin Lewis website, there is a lot of useful information that you can access regarding finance and other areas. Or Citizens Advice.
There are many services that are now doing phone and internet-based interventions, 1-1 and group, you can find your local Primary Mental Health Service in the links below. Also, you can search online what services are around you.
I hope these brief personal story and the links are helpful for you in these difficult times.
Please, take care of yourself and those that depend on you vices versa.
Mental Health Foundation: What are the health benefits of altruism? https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/doing-good-does-you-good/health-benefits-altruism