One early symptom of coronavirus is muscle pain. Another is fatigue. I am not surprised then that I am seeing a high level of anxiety amongst my clients as these are things which are associated with chronic pain. Some people have been contacting me online https://www.apaininthemind.co.uk/contact/ to ask what to do.
Of course, I cannot tell you if you have the virus or not. But I can help you to live in the best way you can as we work through this pandemic.
High anxiety and Corvid-19
People with chronic pain suffer from muscle pain and often get fatigued. And some people with chronic pain will have underlying conditions which can make the virus more dangerous if they do catch it. So, there is a lot of worry about and it is justified. At the same time being anxious is not going to help you cope in these hard times.
I am dealing with a lot of people who are living with a very high level of anxiety and I am succeeding in lowering the anxiety rates in a good number of them.
I want to help here. Being in a highly anxious state is very unpleasant. On top of that there is some evidence that high anxiety can affect your general health and lower your immune response.
Routine and corona virus
A routine can help control anxiety. It gives a structure to life and it also gives a structure in which you can measure what works for you and when your bad times are.
In this strange and often frightening period a routine can help. All of us are in situations where our normal routines have changed drastically and for some of us it is hard to set up any routine at all.
What I am going to suggest should be taken as a guide which you can adapt to your own circumstances as we stay at home to help to slow the spread of the virus.
Start the day off well
For most people beginning the day in a way which is calm and positive can help a lot. I would suggest you get up, shower, dress and have breakfast and then take a few minutes to ground yourself and set yourself up for the best day possible.
It is a good time to calm yourself by some targeted work to control your pain. You will feel better and this in itself will help your anxiety. I would suggest you take a look at these resources on my website. https://www.apaininthemind.co.uk/resources/
Getting through the day
Once you have done this, then you can get on with your morning. I would advise that you limit the time you spend watching news. Make a regular slot once or twice a day and then turn off your online newsfeeds and the 24-hour news on the TV.
If you are finding it difficult to motivate yourself try this.
Make a list of your tasks
Have to do
There will be things you have to do, paid work and keep your house or flat clean and tidy, for example. Set aside how long you need to do these and the times at which you will do them. Even if you do not like housework try to be positive about it. Adopt a mindful attitude, do not rush (this is especially important if you suffer with chronic pain). Feel pleased with yourself when the tasks are done.
Ought to do
There will be things you think you ought to do but which are not essential. Be honest with yourself if you find something stressful or unpleasant. Especially at this time, do not make yourself do things you do not want to.
Give yourself permission to rest and to heal. You do not have to start new projects or help everyone else. If you need time to yourself then take it.
Want to do
There will be things you love doing, which you can still do even in these times. Value these. Many people find it is good to plan in these things to they can look forward to them. Remember that often the anticipation of something fun brings as much pleasure as the thing itself. And because we are not going out it is easy to miss this. You can create it. Plan in that film or that bit of music you are looking forward to listening to. Move the book you are so enjoying into your field of vision while you do your ‘must do’ tasks so you look forward to it.
Mark natural breaks in the day
Make the most of the natural breaks in the day. Value mealtimes especially. Make sure you eat food which you enjoy and savour. Do not eat mindlessly. Eat to value your own body and how good it is to nourish it.
Record these unprecedented times
You may want to set some time to keep a journal, to reflect on what is going on. We are living in unprecedented times. You may want to think of generations which come after us and what they will want to know about how we felt and behaved. The government responses, and the heroic work by health professionals and medical experts will be recorded. The small ways in which we managed in our homes will not be remembered unless we record it ourselves. Keeping a journal can help you reflect on your feelings and actions now and that can help you control your anxiety. It can also lift your self-esteem and you know you are giving something to the future.
Dealing with spikes of anxiety
If in the course of the day you may have some spikes of anxiety. Take a look at the blog I wrote last month to get some tips of dealing with this. https://www.apaininthemind.co.uk/panic-and-chronic-pain/
Many people find they experience a dip in energy in the middle of the afternoon and this can add to anxiety. I would suggest you try some positive visualisation at this time. Again, take a look at my previous blog post and the positive visualisation section to get a good tool for dealing with this. https://www.apaininthemind.co.uk/panic-and-chronic-pain/
More help on getting a good routine to deal with both chronic pain and anxiety
I hope you find this helpful. If you want some more detail about developing routines to help cope with chronic pain, I would suggest you take a look at my book Break the Pain Cycle in 28 days. It will give you a good routine some of which you can do through the lockdown and other bits of which you can adapt.
Stay safe and stay calm and we will come through this.
See you soon. Stay safe and look after your health and well-being.