You schedule meetings with your teammates; now schedule a time with your worrying thoughts!

An effective way to look after your mental health and well-being during COVID-19

With the current lockdown in place, it must be a while since you’ve been to a restaurant. Do you look back and reflect fondly on all your favourite restaurants, the delicious food, the aesthetic ambience, and the great company? But try to think back to some of the more average dining experiences you’ve had. Places where the servers are over-solicitous, disturbing you every few minutes, asking you if you want something else, or enquiring how you like the food. The constant interruptions ruin the flow of conversation and your overall dining experience, don’t they? 

Trying to get any work done with worrying and anxiety-inducing thoughts running in your mind is much like such a dining experience. It’s not just about trying to be productive when working from home or getting all the home chores done. Basic things like going to bed on time and getting quality sleep, waking up in the morning and feeling energetic, enjoying a TV show or a good book – such routine things are hampered too if your thoughts constantly run wild. 

‘The world is going to end.’ ‘We are all doomed.’ ‘It will take a year for the vaccine to be out; until then we will all be caged in our houses.’ ‘There’s going to be a financial crisis after the pandemic.’ It’s normal to think such thoughts during the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown. To be honest, it’s pretty unavoidable. However, constantly thinking such thoughts is unhealthy and can have a negative impact on your mental health and well-being. 

Related: Why we need to focus on women’s mental health?

Worry postponement

A helpful and handy technique to deal with all the stressful and worrying thoughts during coronavirus is worry postponement. This is a healthy way of acknowledging everything that’s troubling you without being completely absorbed by it throughout the day. It involves setting a specific ‘worry period’, say 15 minutes daily at 7 pm, and only indulging in worrying thoughts during that period.  

If you’re beset by any disturbing thoughts at any other time, simply remind yourself that you have your worry period scheduled for later and will handle it then. It may sound a little silly at first, but once you try it, you’ll see just how effective it can be. 

Here are some things to remember so you can effectively apply worry postponement during the pandemic. 

Set a worry period

Think about a time in the day when you feel you’ll be in the best frame of mind to tend to your worries. This should be a time when you’re unlikely to be disturbed and also not preoccupied with work deadlines or something else. A period of 15–30 minutes is typically enough time for your daily worry period. You need to make sure you keep a fixed time and not change it from day to day, because being consistent helps to train your brain. 

Is the problem real or hypothetical?

Even during your worry time, you’ll have problems and worries that you can categorise into real and hypothetical. The distinguishing factor is: can you do something about it right now? For instance, if you’re worrying about something you can take an action for immediately, it’s a real problem. But there will be some issues you can only tackle later, after the lockdown ends. So ignore the latter for the time being.

Related: 6 Ways to prioritise your mental health as a woman and why it’s important

Utilise your worry time effectively

Use your worry time for, well, worrying! A good practice is to write down all the things on your mind that were troubling you throughout the day. Think how and why they concern you. Scribble it all down so it’s off your mind. Note down if you can take any practical actions for these worries. For instance, if you’re worried about becoming physically inactive, you can install fitness apps with guided workout sessions. 

Snap out of your worry period

Sometimes, when you’re indulging in all your stressful thoughts during the worry period, you may find it easy to go down that rabbit hole. Therefore, it’s essential to have a way of transitioning out of that worry period. Follow it up with a five-minute mediation session or make a to-do list to organise your thoughts. You could also try stream-of-consciousness writing, where you keep writing without stopping or giving much thought to your grammar or wondering if it's making any sense. Simply follow your train of thought. 

Remember, if at any other time of the day you find your mind wandering off to troublesome thoughts, you have to say firmly, ‘No, I will worry about this later’. After doing this for a few days, you’ll find worry postponement easier. You might even find yourself recommending the technique to your loved ones. 

The coronavirus pandemic and lockdown are a trying time for all, so it’s important to take care of your overall well-being by doing whatever helps. Here are some new age health tricks and tips every woman needs to know.