Very few among us have experienced a pandemic like this. Besides being threatened by a deadly virus, we are watching the global economy shut down and our investment portfolios dropping at a dizzying speed. Many of us can’t go to work and have no income. And we are stuck at home with nothing to do, no control over what is happening, and no reasonable end in sight.
All of this is having a detrimental effect on our state of mind. We feel our stress and anxiety going up and our resilience going way, way down.
Some of us have developed dubious strategies for dealing with isolation and uncertainty – binge watching Netflix, spending hours on the internet following the news as it goes from bad to worse, or just staying in bed because we don’t know what to do next.
The good news is there are coping strategies that can help. In a March 16 article in Globe and Mail, Dr Montreuil from the Canadian Mental Health Association advised: “The first step is to tell yourself you need to accept there are things beyond your control. You just have to let go. This may be easier said than done, but without taking this cognitive step, it’s harder to adopt behaviours and self-care measures that can help you cope.”
Dr Montreuil also recommends not getting lost in the news. Allot specific times of the day to check what is going on, and stick to reputable sources of information. Otherwise, she says, “take this time as a forced opportunity to connect with the things you enjoy, such as cooking, reading and spending time with your children.”
Other coping strategies recommended by professionals include:
- Stick to a good routine – don’t stay up all night, or sleep all day;
- Eat nutritious food and have regular meal times;
- Exercise, even if you can’t get to the gym;
- Keep your home clean and orderly. According to research, living in a tidy space boosts mood, reduces anxiety and stress, and improves creativity and concentration;
- Do what you can to help others. Click here for more information on helping others.
One of the best ways to reduce anxiety and increase resilience is to start from the inside. This is how the Transcendental Meditation technique works. TM allows the attention to turn inwards and find a natural state of calm and stillness. At the same time, it enables the body to release the stress and tension it has been holding onto all these weeks and months. The result is that when we come out of meditation we feel calmer, clearer, more energetic and ready to face the day.
Last year, a group of 27 nurses showed us how effective TM be. Nursing, even on a good day, is stressful. On a daily basis, nurses take care of those experiencing trauma and illness, and that can, over time, increase stress and wear down resilience.
A study published in 2019 in the Journal for Nurses in Professional Development showed that after four months of regular TM practise, the 27 nurses at Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Flordia who took part in the study experienced a reduction in compassion fatigue and burnout, and an increase in compassion satisfaction and resilience. This study highlights the importance of TM in maintaining mental health in stressful situations.
And in a seminal study published in 1989, researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 146 independent studies showing that Transcendental Meditation is significantly more effective in reducing trait anxiety than other techniques.
This is a trying time, but we can meet the challenge. We need to take care of ourselves, starting from the inside out. From a platform of strength and resilience, we can stay balanced and rested and be ready for the journey ahead.