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17 Jul, 2020

How to stay positive and calm in crisis with Dr Sarah Vohra

Dr Sarah Vohra is a Consultant Psychiatrist and Author of The Mind Medic. Here she outlines the 5 sense toolkit, coping with change and ways to make you feel calmer and happier in crisis.

Health

What's your advice for keeping positive and calm throughout something like the Covid-19 pandemic?

Think about your senses, things you see, hear, smell, feel and taste that can help you feel calmer and happier and create yourself a 5 sense survival toolkit for the day. Here are some suggestions on things that might help.

See

Facetime family / a friend, read a book or curl up with a box set

Hear

Call a friend, listen to a podcast or audiobook, practice regular positive self-talk

Smell

Practice mindfulness or meditation, breathe in the fresh air and smell the bullshit (fake news anyone?)

Feel

Incorporate some regular exercise into your daily routine, hit the sack on time or invest in a fidget toy, stress ball or even bubble wrap to channel some of that nervous energy

Taste

Eat well and regularly, curb caffeine and alcohol consumption which are only likely to ramp up any negative feelings you may be experiencing.

And how do we step off the rollercoaster of worry?

If there is one emotion that feels dominant for us all at the moment, it is worry. The Coronavirus pandemic has filled most of us with uncertainty and panic - trying to remain positive through it all is likely to feel difficult. But worrying can take up a lot of our time and energy. It can get in the way of what we need to be doing such as work and the things we like to do such as spending time with friends and family.

Learning to recognise the different types of worry and how they will or won’t serve you can help you step off that rollercoaster and start to feel calmer and happier.

Each time you find yourself worrying about something, ask yourself is this a problem solving worry i.e. is this a worry you can turn into a problem to solve? For instance, worrying about running late to a meeting can be solved by setting an alarm or planning ahead. Or is this a ‘might not’ worry; things that might not happen, are less likely to have a solution and can distract you from going about your day. For instance, worrying that no-one’s going to be interested in what you say when you get there.

If it is a problem solving worry, solve away. If not, then write the worry down and postpone it to your ‘worry curfew; a time in the day, where you can give yourself permission to worry for an allocated period of time, 30 mins unconditionally. Then return to whatever activity you were doing before or find something positive to keep you occupied knowing you have the ability to worry about this later.

During your curfew:

  • Review your list of worries.
  • Strike out anything no longer worrying you.
  • Jot down what continuing to have worried about this during the day might have done, e.g.running late or got in the way of you enjoying the meeting.
  • Once your worry time is complete, tear off the paper from your journal screw it up and throw it away.
  • Start afresh the following day.

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You can follow Dr Sarah Vohra on Instagram @themindmedic.

Our Summer Set programme was designed to help with stress-management, as well as boost your gut and mental health. Find out more here.

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