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May 20, 2020

When we’re caught off guard by something as little as a new barbell movement or as big as a quarantine measure, it can be tough to move forward. The effect that COVID-19 is having on us as a society are significant. All of the unexpected changes in our lives can take a toll on our mental health. We feel anxiety about the virus and loneliness of confinement. 

But how can we deal with unpredictable situations like this one? How can we take back control of our lives? We need to do something. 

In this article, we are going to give you some ideas that help us manage our emotions. Remember that taking care of your mental health will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.

Photo by Madison Inouye from Pexels

Photo by Madison Inouye from Pexels

Acknowledging, recognizing and acting

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), states that acknowledging, recognizing and acting on mental distress in these uncertain times is key to lessening the impact. 

Let's start by acknowledging the potential mental health issues that can be related to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Anxiety 

In anarticle published by Medical News Today, anxiety is defined as a normal and often healthy emotion. However, disproportionate levels of anxiety lead to excessive nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worry.

Asurvey by the Chinese Psychology Society, published in February, found that of 18,000 people tested for anxiety related to the coronavirus outbreak, 42.6% registered a positive response. Of 5,000 people evaluated for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), 21.5% had obvious symptoms.

But wait a minute, what are the fears and worries that people are having?  

A poll by theKaiser Family Foundation found that what is worrying people the most is:

  • The idea that you or someone in your family will get sick 
  • That your money and savings will be negatively impacted 
  • That you will lose income due to a workplace closure or reduced hours 
  • That you will not be able to afford testing or treatment if you need it
  • ​You will put yourself at risk of exposure to the virus because you can’t afford to stay home, you need to go to work.

These are all valid reasons that may bring our anxiety levels to the sphere of unhealthy emotion. Can you relate to any of these reasons? I certainly can.

Obsessions 

David Rock, co-founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute says that "our brains are wired to pay additional attention to uncertainty. In the face of an ambiguous situation — maybe fine, maybe bad — our brains automatically bet on it being very bad, just in case". So this might explain why you (and everyone around you) are washing hands and disinfecting surfaces all the time.  Or keeping the news on all day long to figure out the new cases and potential risks.  You see, it is easy to become obsessive in times like this. Now, we have to acknowledge our feelings. Take a minute and think about your overreactions and those intrusive worries. Make a list; it might help to have them written down.

Loneliness and Depression

Our new 'normal' life means schools/business and gym closures, work-from-home mandates, minimal time outdoors, no gatherings, etc. All these restrictions are considered critical to slow the spread of the virus. Social distancing is now what can keep us safe, but it might not keep us away from feeling lonely or demotivated. And we should be careful with this sincenumerous studies have shown the adverse mental health and physical impacts of loneliness can trigger a depressive episode. 

Stress

Remember, the first step is to acknowledge your stress. What’s stressing you specifically and how are you reacting to these stressors? What emotions are you experiencing: frustration, sadness, anger? And what do you notice in your body: Do you feel tightness in your neck and shoulders, or do you have difficulty sleeping? How is your diet? Are you drinking more alcohol than before?

TheCDC mentions that stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones. 

But don't overreact, the truth is that we only stress about things that we care about. And maybe this hidden motivation can lead us away from stress. Do you want to know how? Keep reading.


Time to act! Ways to cope during Covid-19

Now that we have recognized these mental health risks, it is time to work towards coping with them and reducing their potential impact on our mental health. Here is a list of coping strategies to help get you through these uncertain times.  

Stay Connected 

Stay connected with friends and family through video calls and social media. Take your time and be an active listener to help your friends and loved ones. This is also a great opportunity to share your concerns. A friend of mine started offering virtual dinners and coffee breaks, it's pretty funny actually! And it's a relief to hear that we are not the only ones having fears and negative thoughts. 

Plus, don't forget that there are many online peer support communities likeForLikeMinds,7 Cups,Therapy Tribe and18percent. They have dedicated groups or individual consultations for free during this crisis.


Be selective about how you consume news

It’s generally a good idea to stay engaged and informed but it's a better idea to establish some limits. Sadly, false information spreads very easily on social media and can have serious consequences on us. So make sure your sources are reputable and limit your time spent searching news.


Use Your Stress

In this article, you will find a complete guide on how to Make Stress Work for You. But in short, the idea is that by connecting to the core values behind your stress you can achieve your goals and connect more deeply with the things that matter most.

For example, if you’re worried about the impact of coronavirus on society, is constantly watching the news the best way to help your community? Think about how you might change your response to this stress and align it with your goals.


If you are working from home:

- Dedicate a space to your work that has few distractions

- Schedule times when you work and times when you take breaks (to move your body and eat)

- Create a clear boundary between your work time and your after-work time. 


Take care of your body

Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate.

Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals.

Get plenty of sleep.

Avoid alcohol.

Exercise regularly:Barbell Beauties has weekly workout plans for free. You just need to subscribe with your email on the main page and you will get access to the working out guides.

CONCLUSION

Let's be honest, things are very different this week than they were last week, and we don’t really know how things will be next week. All these changes and uncertainty are very challenging and stressful to cope with, but with simple tools like the ones expressed here, we can relieve our minds of negative thoughts and keep pushing forward. 

Some psychologists state that true transformative change can occur only during stress or crises. So this moment, now, is an opportunity for all of us to learn how to adapt and be resilient. The key is to channel your coronavirus stress as energy to make the most of this time. You’ve got this. You are a strong CrossFitter. Use the skills you have learned at the gym to endure in this crisis at home. But remember, you are not alone. Look for a friend who can keep you accountable, maybe a Barbell Beauties member. It's important to know that someone else cares about your success.

Keep safe and keep after it, even during these difficult times!


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