We’re all aware of how the coronavirus is affecting us, our loved ones or someone we know. But for many people, it’s challenging their mental state too.
Our routine is gone. The way we are working has changed. Our social life disappeared.
It’s likely to be the first time any of us have had to deal with such a lifestyle change, and one that has happened so quickly. So how do we stay strong mentally?
“That’s a really good question,” says Kul Mahay, an emotional intelligence specialist. “The key thing here is if you look at your social media, or you switch on the TV and you hear about the extent of the coronavirus and this is a global issue, it’s so very easy for us to get into this negative mind space, what I call a ‘panic mindset’.
"Essentially what’s happening is we are going into the part of our brain that’s all about fear. It’s a part of what we call the ‘Limbic System’. Limbic is emotion and in there we also have how we deal with fear. So, a lot of people, when they get into a fear mindset, they get into that panic mindset and less spatial awareness and you’re singularly focusing on that fear.
"If you think about something that scares you more and more and more and more, you magnify your mindset. So there will be people out there who are absolutely petrified of what is going on in the world right now. As a consequence, they won’t be able to make good, rational, sound decisions, to either protect themselves or their loved ones or even the people around them.”
Kul is talking from first-hand experience. He has only recently recovered from symptoms of the coronavirus himself, with his wife also falling ill.
“I’ve had chronic chest pains, cough, I’ve had a high fever, but by keeping a rational mindset, my wife and I have come out the other side, we’re feeling much healthier, we can breathe a lot easier, and all we’ve done is made some decisions, around how we manage our own mindset.
“For me, the mental and psychological and the physical are inter-related. One affects the other. Using my own experience, we’ve been having the right kinds of foods, the right kinds of hot drinks, that the government and the medical practitioners recommend, taking all of that action, but on the flipside, managing our mental stage, so watching anything that makes us laugh, we’ve been limiting our social media and exposure to negative thinking, we’ve only watched the news for a bit every single day, and we’ve created an environment for us, a very healthy, happy and positive environment. “
It’s the positive environment that Kul is so keen to place importance on. We are being challenged in a new way, restricted to one location, but Kul insists the scenario doesn’t need to lead to doom and gloom.
“Self-isolation for us as social creatures is a very tough thing to do. Even for the most introvert, self-isolation,cutting ourselves off from the external world and loved ones, who are living in perhaps other houses, can be a very, very tough thing. But the challenge of self-isolation is that you will be with your loved ones, for extended periods of the day, or several days with your loved ones on a 24 hour basis, it’s almost unheard of in the modern world.
"Normally, we break that up by going to work or going to school. For us to be in the environment with them all of the time, so many other issues can arise. Other things affect us when it comes to self-isolation, that we’re not in the routine that we’re used to, we’re not going out to work, we’re not seeing our colleagues at work on a daily basis, we’re not talking about work anymore, so we almost feel like ‘what do I do now? I’ve got nothing else to do, I don’t know how to operate my life.’ So we have to press a bit of a reset button here and for me, it’s about looking at how we could alternatively do things.
“Obviously it’s important for us to stay connected. It could be over Skype, it could be over Facetime, it could be over Whatsapp. There are so many free available opportunities, for us to speak face to face with people other than having to see them and have face to face physical contact. So keep reaching out to people, make that phone call. Because as lonely as we might be, they will also be feeling the same frustrations.
“It’s also important that we stay calm and manage our own mental state, so mindfulness, have plenty of meditation. I have an app myself that’s called ‘Ignite Your Inner Potential’, which has lots of online video content for free, so go and access things like that. Read a book, do things that you’ve never done before.”
There’s one key factor to keeping mentally happy throughout this period though, according to Kul.
“Get a structure to your day, having a structure to your day makes you feel more productive, makes you feel more focused. So even though your day has changed, create a new routine but plan that day. Get up in the morning at an earlier time, don’t end up spending time in bed much, much later than you’re used to. All of the kind of structures are so very important in terms of how our mind works. I think it’s important that we all feel productive.
“Extended period of times with loved ones can still lead to tension in the home, so how do we cope with that tension? Well of the first things I would say is start to walk away and have an understanding that if there is a bit of tension, we will separate for a short while and come back later on, when we’ve calmed down.
"If we respond immediately to any kind of tension, because we’re already in the fear mindset, we’re already in the limbic parts of our brain, we’re going to respond in a limbic kind of way. We will say and do things that we later regret. Maybe some of the tension we’re having is around ‘what time are we eating?’, ‘what program do I want to watch?’, or ‘what do we do in the evening?’. Create a rota so that everybody has a clear understanding of what’s going to happen in different parts of the day. This is a new normality that we just need to adjust to, while we are in self isolation.”
You can learn more with Kul by booking a free consultation with him (www.kulmahay.com) to discuss a variety of topics, regarding mentality, leadership and business coaching. He is also available to contact through LinkedIn (Kul Mahay) and his app ‘Ignite your Inner Potential’, which has a vast range of free content is available for download in all the usual places.
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