Coronavirus: how to take the C.A.L.M.E.R approach to stress and anxiety
These are stressful and uncertain times for us all, but there are simple ways to be kind to your mind.
With a near-constant stream of updates on the coronavirus pandemic coming from all sides, it’s easy to feel a little overwhelmed at the moment.
The C.A.L.M.E.R. approach is a useful acronym developed by the British Red Cross’ psychosocial and mental health team. Using it will enable you to easily remember a few healthy steps you can take when you or someone you know feels anxious or helpless about the current situation. It’s a very effective way to help reduce stress.
Consider your own needs, and those closest to you
This is particularly important if you are caring for others. You will only be able to care for others as best you can if you are also looking after your own physical and mental health too. Be prepared for your own resilience to fluctuate – everyone’s will.
Acknowledge the source of stress, and how it impacts upon you
Identifying an issue is the first step in fixing it. If it’s spending too much time watching the news, or receiving too many forwarded Whatsapp messages of dubious origin, turn off the television and mute your app. It’s one of the easiest ways to reduce stress.
Dedicate some time each day (or however often you find most helpful) to catch up with the day’s events, rather than oversaturating yourself by keeping up to date with every daily briefing. Gather your information from trusted sources, such as the WHO website and your local health authority’s platforms, to help you to distinguish facts from rumours.
Listen to how you’re feeling mentally and physically
Even though we all know that the restrictions we are all living under are for very good reasons, it’s normal to become frustrated or angry from time to time.
Imagining the worst-case scenario can lead to feeling restless and fearful, and many of us (even those living with others) might be feeling very lonely at the moment. These are all completely reasonable things to be feeling, so don’t berate yourself if you’re having a bad day.
Manage ways to manage your stress and regain control
If you’re currently working from home, try to take the same breaks you would if you were at your normal place of work. Similarly, it’s easy to forget to stop working at the end of the day, so try to set yourself a dedicated time for when it’s time to down tools and start with the rest of your day or evening.
Remember the six important Rs of resilience: responsibility, reflection, relaxation, relationships, refuelling, and recreation.
Enable – what has enabled you to cope with stress in the past?
We all have activities or interests we like to spend time on when we’re feeling overwhelmed. Engaging in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing, such as exercise, will help you keep a sense of normality about your day and help you to keep things in perspective.
Another tip from the WHO is to amplify positive and hopeful stories or images. Remember that it’s natural for news outlets to focus on the scary stories, but that there are plenty of stories of people doing kind things and supporting others through this crisis too.
Keep things in perspective: ultimately, there is a global effort being made to combat this virus and even by simply staying home you are playing your part.
Resource – what do you need to put steps in place?
Think practically here. We all have different needs and preferences and we will all react differently to the ongoing situation. Think about the resources you need that will help with all of the above.
Is it input from friends and family? Is it more alone time, particularly if you spend your days in close proximity to the other members of your household?
In these unprecedented times, you may take some time to get it right - but do take the time to find a balance.
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