How you can deal with the difficult time successfully

In the evening, enjoy a beer with friends in the bar, go to a concert, take the children to kindergarten or simply visit your own grandparents. All of these everyday things are suddenly no longer possible. The Corona epidemic is holding large parts of the world and Germany firmly in its grip. In order to slow down the spread of the virus and thus relieve the burden on the health care system, many countries have taken far-reaching freedom-limiting measures. Now we are sitting at home, trying to limit our social contacts to the bare essentials, shifting our work to the home office as much as possible and preparing ourselves for all these restrictions to remain in place indefinitely.

For most people, social isolation is a problem at some point. But living together in a confined space can also become difficult, as the often cramped living space offers hardly any opportunities to avoid each other. In addition, fears and worries weigh on people. Fear about family members and friends who belong to the risk group, fear of losing one’s job or concern about one’s own health. This article is designed to help you maintain a positive attitude in difficult times and continue to enjoy life as much as possible. We can only overcome the crisis by taking care of ourselves, but also of our fellow human beings.

What is known about the corona virus

Covid-19 is a respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) and originates from the Chinese province of Wuhan. The first infections with a novel pathogen were reported to the World Health Organisation WHO in December 2019. Originally the main site of spread was in China, Europe and America have now become the centre of the pandemic. As no one had been exposed to the virus before the outbreak, the population does not yet have any resistance to the disease, which means that many people become infected quickly and the virus can spread rapidly. According to initial conservative estimates, the actual infection is very mild in the vast majority of cases (around 80 percent of those infected) and only about five percent of those infected require intensive medical care. So there is no reason for excessive panic. At risk, however, are elderly people and people with pre-existing conditions. They must be protected by all of us, which is why it is important that we keep our social contacts to a minimum. Many countries have therefore imposed curfews or contact bans. If we do not manage to contain the virus and large parts of the population become infected at the same time, there is a risk that the health system will be overburdened by the enormous number of people in need of treatment. We must therefore implement the recommended rules of conduct to slow down the spread of the virus wherever possible. [1] [2]

Mindfulness in times of crisis

1. Give structure to your day

In such difficult times it is especially important that you do not allow yourself to be completely absorbed by what is happening around you. This includes maintaining a regular daily routine, with duties and leisure activities, with periods of productivity and rest. Surely you know the feeling that at some point it gets on your nerves when your days simply pass by unused, each day somehow resembles the other and you feel mentally and physically underchallenged. If you just live your day out over a longer period of time, you run the risk of the ceiling falling on your head at some point. Sleeping problems can also be aggravated in this way. The same applies if you work at home in your home office. Try to keep to fixed working hours to avoid being interrupted and your work drags on into the late evening hours.

If you find that you are having difficulty implementing your intentions in the long term, write a plan of when you want to do which things. Always include some extra time for unforeseen events so that they do not upset everything. With a regular daily routine it is easier to put aside negative thoughts, to keep your positive attitude and to make the best of the current circumstances.

2. Get specific information from reliable sources

Try to stop the constant stream of news about the latest developments in the Corona crisis as much as possible. In today’s world, most people always have their mobile phone within easy reach, providing them with the latest infection numbers, deaths and measures against the virus almost every minute. You should be careful not to get caught up in this maelstrom of bad news, so your mind is constantly preoccupied with the crisis. This has a very negative effect on the mood of most people in the long run. In our digitalised and networked world it is often not so easy to escape this flood of bad news. But so you never really manage to relax and are constantly in a doomsday mood. Therefore, put your mobile phone aside in a place where it is not constantly in your field of attention and try to keep your distance from other media.

Of course it is nevertheless a good idea to keep up to date with the latest developments. However, you should only inform yourself at certain times and from trustworthy sources. The internet in particular is full of dramatising, superficial or simply false reports. Especially those who have not studied biological processes in depth quickly lose the overview. Choose a few news sources that you consider trustworthy and plan half an hour in the morning and half an hour in the evening to get specific information from them. One of these sources could be, for example, the podcast with the virologist Christian Drosten, which appears daily during the week. Drosten classifies current developments in an unagitated and objective way, provides background information and also answers questions from viewers.

3. Engage in sports

Sport releases happiness hormones. It helps you to reduce stress and strengthens your cardiovascular system, which also makes you more resistant to respiratory diseases. And just because we are currently stuck in our flat does not mean that physical activity has to stop completely. Quite the opposite! In order to protect ourselves and others, we should of course avoid community sports. But on the internet, for example on YouTube, you can find countless videos with instructions on how to do exercise, which you can also do from the comfort of your own home. Whether it’s yoga, dance, back exercises or weight training, everyone can do sports and keep fit in their own home. In most cases, a place on the carpet in the living room is enough for this and at most you will need a cushion or a chair as an additional aid. Jogging and cycling is still possible for most people, of course in compliance with safety regulations. A walk through nature revives body and mind and is balm for our soul.

Now all that remains is to overcome your inner self. Even if we spend the whole day at home, it is often not so easy for us. Either you’re so tied up with domestic duties and home office that the day passes you by too quickly, or you simply put off sporting activities until it’s already late again and you don’t want to annoy the neighbours with your jumping around. Most people can always think of an excuse why things can’t work out right now. This is where you have to start and not let the usual excuses apply.

Especially to get a certain regularity in your exercises, you need a lot of self-discipline. So try to set recurring times for physical activity in your daily schedule. Also encourage other people in your household to take part. Children in particular can get rid of their excess energy with the right exercises. Physical activity also helps to relieve frustration and tension. Sport therefore also makes an important contribution to peaceful coexistence in cramped living conditions.

4. Take specific time to relax – for example through meditation

Especially in times of crisis, look for recreational breaks in which you can clear your head and reflect on yourself. The time you spend on the sofa in front of the television is certainly relaxing, but it is not meant here because the television programme takes up your attention and keeps you from your actual goal: To consciously deal with yourself and your needs. A great relaxation technique that you can use almost everywhere is meditation, for example. If you haven’t had any experience with meditation yet, you will find instructions for beginners in our website, which will certainly make it easier for you to get started. In addition, there are many meditation apps with guided meditations that you can download to your smartphone to assist and advise you in the exercises. Meditation is a great way to integrate into a stressful everyday life, it helps you to order your thoughts, to calm down and to focus on the essential.

We at sonamedic also know how important time out is for all of us in such a state of emergency. That is why we have decided to make the sonamedic app available to anyone who is interested, completely free of charge until 15.05.2020. The positive suggestions, the soothing music and the gentle method of binaural beats help you to concentrate, to cope with stress and fears, to breathe deeply, to relax and fall asleep. Just try it out! As a guest, you can access the meditations without registering, and of course you won’t automatically slide into a paid subscription after the free period.

5. Ensure a balanced diet

Food intake activates all our senses and also has a great influence on our mood. It is therefore worth taking time to prepare healthy and varied food. Because even if we may have a lot of time on our hands at the moment, reaching for frozen pizza is still very tempting. And even the pantry with jelly bears, chocolate and other sweet temptations is much easier to plunder if we are stuck at home and are not out and about all day. Especially in times of emotional stress, it is important to reflect on our own food intake. Because stress increases the appetite in many people, we eat more and are less healthy. The reasons for this lie deep in our past, because stress indicates a dangerous situation in which our body tries to provide as much energy as possible in order to emerge victorious from the fight with the sabre-toothed tiger, for example. So we rush into high-energy and therefore fatty and sweet foods. Such eating behaviour can become a problem in the long run. [3] The place where we eat also matters. If you have your meals in front of the television, the programme will distract you from your own feeling of satiety, but also from the flavours of your food. You tend to eat spicier and larger quantities in this kind of situation. However, if, for example, you constantly consume too much salt, this will have a negative effect on your heart performance.

On the opposite, a balanced diet with the right amount of vitamins and minerals strengthens your immune system. Consider the phase that you are now spending more time at home as a chance to invest extra time in your diet. In the long run, you will live a healthier and happier life. Cooking is also a great activity for the whole family. The little ones, but of course you too, can get to know completely new flavours and tastes and become more aware of food. So always allow yourself enough time for a freshly cooked and balanced meal. It is worth it! [4]

6. Navigate creatively through the crisis

Another way for you to switch off and relax is through creative activities. Whether painting, handicrafts or making music, in artistic activities you can free your mind from disturbing thoughts and find serenity, joy and confidence. Maybe the time has come right now to get the old watercolours from the attic or to try out completely new art forms. In creativity you can express your feelings and thoughts and keep yourself mentally fit. Maybe you will also get to know completely new sides of yourself.

And although a visit to a concert or museum must unfortunately be cancelled these days, this does not necessarily mean that you will have to give up such a cultural event altogether. Many institutions and cultural operators are currently trying to make some of their services available online for everyone. What would you think of paying a virtual walk to the Mona Lisa at the Louvre Art Museum in Paris, for example? Or you can visit the website of the Elbphilharmonie Concert Hall and enjoy a small live concert from the comfort of your own couch. If you keep your eyes open these days, you will surely find a suitable event to your taste.

7. Pay attention to your fellow humans

We are all facing major challenges due to the current situation. Especially people with previous illnesses or old age, who now have to spend a lot of time alone in their homes, have been suffering from isolation. It is important that we do not leave them to their own devices during this phase. This also applies to people who do not belong to our immediate family or circle of friends. Even if personal visits are not possible, phone calls and letters are always a great pleasure and a positive distraction. Also consider whether one of your neighbours might need help with shopping. For many people, it is a great challenge to approach others by themselves and ask them for help.

Many actions have also been launched at local level or on the Internet to help people who have been particularly hard hit by the crisis. And it is certainly a good feeling for all of us to do something useful instead of just sitting at home and waiting for normality to return. It is often the little things that help others. Due to the measures ordered, for example, many local shops had to close down for the duration of the epidemic. Therefore, the owners are now facing great financial difficulties. To bridge the time, some have shifted their sales to the internet or offer their goods by telephone order. Maybe you can find small regional businesses that you can support directly by buying from them instead of ordering from the big suppliers.

To stay in touch with people who are close to you, you can also break new ground. Many people arrange to meet online during this time for coffee and cake or a glass of wine in the evening. Everyone sits at home, but there is still a lot of fellowship and exchange. For grandparents, who unfortunately have to live without a visit from their grandchildren at the moment, you can, for example, record a family podcast on CD, in which current family events are discussed or just fool around a bit. In this way, they can continue to participate in everyday family life without endangering themselves.

8. Try to empathise with others

In times of crisis many people are very tense. You should always remember this when you meet other people, be they your family members, flatmates or supermarket staff. Your boss may also be more stressed at the moment because he has to worry about the future of the business. So try not to put every word on the gold scale, show consideration for others, and even overlook a grumpy remark. Try to feel gratitude for all those people who keep society going through their work, which may often involve a high risk of illness. Maybe you work in such a profession yourself, are a nurse or doctor, put up shelves in a supermarket, are a rubbish collector or are a police officer checking contact restrictions. Be proud of your efforts and remember how many people depend on your commitment.

9. Don’t hesitate to get help

Being isolated in a cramped space and for long periods of time in your own home can be very stressful despite all attempts to cope with everyday life and maintain a positive view of the situation. Don’t hesitate to get help if you are feeling bad, depressed or if you are experiencing problems with anxiety. Sometimes just picking up the phone and having a short conversation with a familiar person from your environment can be very relieving. You also have the possibility to call the telephone counselling service around the clock to get support from a professional counsellor. (Germany: Tel. 0800-111 0 111 or 0800-111 0 222 or 116 123) It is important that you recognise problems early on and that you have the right tools to deal with them.

List of sources

[1] Wu, Zunyuo; MC Googan, Jennifer: Jama Network: Characteristics of and Important Lessons From the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Outbreak in China. Summary of a Report of 72 314 Cases from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 24.02.2020 (https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2762130)

[2] Kädig, Thomas: Leverkusener Anzeiger: Karl Lauterbach zu Corona, 18.03.2020 https://www.ksta.de/region/leverkusen/stadt-leverkusen/karl-lauterbach-zu-corona–die-bevoelkerung-schaetzt-die-lage-falsch-ein–36435060

[3] hkk-Krankenkasse: Stopp dem Stress-Essen: https://www.hkk.de/themen/ernaehrung/gesund-essen/stopp-dem-stressessen

[4] Wissenschaft.de: Essen und Wahrnehmung, 01.02.2018, zugriff 03.04.2020

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