If you can be a bit of a worrier, the Coronavirus pandemic may well be threatening to set off some of those feelings of anxiety that can emerge in such uncertain times. Fear of the unknown and the ‘what-ifs’ that are being thrown up in the news constantly all contribute to a watchful waiting that can make us feel out of control and caught in a downward spiral of speculation and fearfulness.
If you share such anxieties, you are not alone! It is normal to feel apprehensive when coping with sudden and sweeping change or not-knowing. There are many good tips popping up on how to take good care of ourselves – especially if self-isolating – but I’ve found that writing a To Do list can really help consolidate our thinking into a simple, every-day plan that we can put into action.
Working through daily tasks, ticking things off as we go gives a sense of achievement at the end of the day, and helps to keep some sort of a structure in place, so that time doesn’t become one long stretch of days that can lead to sluggishness and de-motivation.
Six tips for writing a To Do list that keeps well-being firmly in mind:
- Decide on a daily slot and time-limit for viewing the news – there’s a swirling mass of info being fed on the pandemic, accessible 24/7. You might want to allow yourself 10 minutes once or twice a day – and then walk away.
- Make a plan to connect with family and friends. Many people use social media but the older generation may struggle: offer to help set up Whatsapp groups, or get online with Skype or Zoom. Linking up in this way opens up many possibilities for social gatherings that can be planned ahead, from doing a quiz together to simply grabbing a drink and having a chat. It really is good to talk!
- Get some exercise, every day. Decide on what’s realistic for you, and write it down so that it becomes part of your daily plan. Regular activity ticks so many boxes – not just for physical health but mental wellbeing too, flushing out the stress hormones that would otherwise sit in the body. Try Yoga: https://www.youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene or daily PE sessions with fitness coach Joe Wicks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sX05HHni9Wk, walk your dog or go for a jog around the block. Draw up a plan for sharing the house-work between family members, and set a time-limit.
- Use your time to achieve something. Challenging ourselves to learn a new skill, be that calligraphy, a language, baking or some new pieces on a musical instrument will inspire energy and drive, but needs to be practised regularly in order to get the feel-good effect from noticing how you’ve improved. Adding daily tasks to your To Do list also breaks down ‘learn French’ into ‘learn 5 new verbs today’.
- Prioritise your self-care. You may want to sign up to the Headspace app, which allows you to set a time each day for some mindfulness. Lose yourself in a great novel; get out into the garden and plant something so that you can tend it and watch it grow. Ensure you are getting enough sleep, and try to keep to your normal sleep routines to support this.
- Write down your worries. Getting things down in black and white can have a calming, clarifying effect; try keeping a note-book by the bed, to scribble down anything that’s buzzing around in your head in the night. A daily writing ritual, whether that’s keeping a diary, a one-sentence journal or free-writing whatever pops into your mind for a few minutes each day, helps process worries and then move on from them.