ExclusivesThinkingLife lessons: Dealing with a new way of being during COVID-19

Leading clinical hypnotherapist Kim Dyke shines a light on the hidden recesses of the brain and tells us how we can cope better with anxiety.
Content Team2 months ago14 min

Well, we’ve all done just over a week into our new regime, our new and different way of life.  So how are you doing? 

Some of us are coping really well.  As a Clinical Hypnotherapist I am so pleased to hear my clients talk about the things they are doing and enjoying, new things they’ve decided to take up, completing tasks they’ve been putting off or just not had the time to do. Very noticeably, how they are enjoying spending time with their families and how much calmer life seems to be.

For others, it’s not quite so easy.  For these people, they are struggling with being ‘locked in’ as they see it, not being able to deal with the changes that are taking place and very much focusing on the negatives of how life will be once this situation is over. If this is you, I am happy to briefly explain how your mind is working compared to those that are dealing with the current situation and to give you some advice to help you to deal with life in a better way.

Fight or Flight

Anxiety in an appropriate context can be very useful to our survival.

If there is a polar bear (why not?!) chasing you down the street you are going to activate your survival response, either fight, flight or freeze, to keep you safe.  You may fight it, run from it or to stand very still in the hope that it doesn’t notice you!

We don’t have a choice as to which behaviour we enter into as this is not an intellectual choice.  It is a primitive response from a part of the brain that is there to look after our survival.

For those that are struggling with the situation we are in with Covid-19, this is the part of the brain you have moved into, and it is never going to come up with anything useful in terms of ideas, suggestions or solutions to help you to deal with it.  It will promote the same behaviour patterns that you have entered into before, because it believes these will keep you safe.  So if that means worrying, watching every news bulletin going, researching the internet for every bit of information you can find about Covid-19, talking to family and friends constantly about the virus, then this is what the primitive mind will encourage you to keep doing and so creating even more anxiety!

Focus on the positive

There is another part of our brain that we can use, that is much more rational and intellectual and is able to come up with new ideas, suggestions and solutions to deal with the current situation we all find ourselves in.

This part of the brain is activated and strengthened when we focus on positive things. Anxiety does not live in this sensible, intellectual, rational part of the brain, only the primitive part.  Good news eh?! So, how do we move into this part of the brain that enables us to look at things differently and helps us to deal with anything life throws at us?

I am always saying to my clients that if something isn’t working, we have to do something different otherwise nothing will change, and we will be stuck with these anxious feelings.  I encourage my clients to practice what I call the 3 Ps – positive thinking, positive interaction and positive activities.  Not necessarily easy to begin with, but with practice we find ourselves taking more control of our feelings and our behaviours.  This is why I am seeing my clients coping with the current situation, doing different things and in a lot of cases actually enjoying the change; their lives are calmer, they’re enjoying being away from the rush and busyness of life!  All due to encouraging them to focus on the positives in their lives.  So, instead of thinking about their restrictions, they are actively thinking about what they can do instead.

Top tips for positivity

There are many things we can do to help ourselves right now. I have made a list below which I hope is helpful:

  • Keep a ‘positive’ journal and at the start of every day write in it at least 3 things you are looking forward to for the day ahead. At the end of the day, note at least 3 things you enjoyed.  This helps to start and end the day in a positive frame of mind
  • Keep a daily routine going. Get up at the same time and go to bed at the same time as the brain responds really well to routine. Decide what tasks you want or need to complete and make a plan for the day ahead. You may want to think about putting these into a timetable or diary.  This will give you something to focus on every day.
  • Include self-care into your day. It’s important to meet those personal needs to gain balance in our lives.  This creates balance in the brain.  Eat and drink healthily, exercise (there are plenty of options to choose from on Youtube!) Have a nice relaxing bath and make sure you are getting a good amount of sleep every night. This includes coming off anything screen based around an hour before bedtime! I encourage my clients to listen to my relaxation track as they fall asleep so please feel free to visit my website and download a complimentary copy. You can also listen to it during the day if you wish, after lunch is a good time to do this, but please set an alarm for an hour’s time, particularly if you need to be somewhere or to do something!
  • Consider taking up a new hobby or maybe to study – there are plenty of courses online.
  • Stay in touch with family you don’t live with and your friends. We are so lucky to be able to use technology to assist us in this with so many options to choose from.
  • Limit your exposure to the media. It’s good to stay informed but ensure this isn’t the main focus of your day
  • Read or watch a film – this enables us to take a break from what’s going on and to enter another World, so to speak
  • Listen to your favourite music – this can transport us to some really happy memories which we can enjoy all over again!
  • Learn to control your breathing. Practicing 7/11 breathing can be a great technique for taking control of any anxious feelings.  Breathe in through the nose for a count of 7, and breathe out through the mouth for a count of 11 and do this half a dozen times in a row.  It’s always best to practice this when you are calm and relaxed so that it becomes automatic for you when you need it.
  • Spend time in the garden or make use of the hour we have been given to take your dog (s) for a walk. They will benefit as much as you will!

I do hope you have found this article useful and please feel free to pass it on to anyone you feel it will help.

You never know, in doing something different you may find a skill you didn’t know you had!

Take good care.
Wishing you my very best,
Kim

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Kim Dyke HPD, Dip Hyp MHS, SFBT (Hyp), CBT (Hyp), GQHP, SFBT Sup (Hyp) is a Solution Focused Clinical Hypnotherapist and Clinical Hypnotherapy Supervisor with a private practice at the Glove Factory Studios in Holt, Wiltshire. She has been in private practice since 2008 and specialises in anxiety states. Kim uses Solution Focused Hypnotherapy to help  clients overcome a range of issues.

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