It feels like we have just been beamed back to the spring, to the time of the first corona lockdown in Germany. After the apparently breather in summer, the rapidly spreading pandemic is causing many worries and problems again. Again we have to distance ourselves – at least physically – from people who are close to us. Again millions of people fear for their jobs and their financial security; Concern for our own health and that of the people around us grows again; Again, parents fear whether schools and daycare centers will really stay open all winter or whether their children will soon have to stay at home all day again.
Dealing with all of these fears and imponderables is difficult – but possible, says psychologist Alena Rentsch. She works for the online therapy platform HelloBetter. If you want to get through this second corona wave in a mentally healthy way, says Rentsch, you have to master one thing: self-care. “Those who treat themselves with care pay more attention to their own needs,” explains Rentsch. This starts with the basic physical needs, such as enough sleep or regular and healthy food. And self-care also includes taking time for your own interests, social contacts or personal development. “It’s about organizing everyday life, despite obligations, so that you don’t miss out on yourself,” says Rentsch.
Find your resources and use them
What exactly helps you to better deal with corona-related fears differs from person to person (Even if there are some strategies that can help everyone – we present them to you in the picture gallery at the end of the article). But you can all practice something that is called “resource activation” in psychotherapy, says Alena Rentsch. This means: Do not concentrate on what is going badly at the moment – but on what is still working well and on positive experiences that you have already had earlier in your life. “We all have resources,” says Rentsch. You just have to find it.
Maybe you succeeded in homeschooling your child much better than expected in the first lockdown? Or did you as a manager manage to strengthen your team during this difficult time? Then think back to it. Other resources that you keep reminding yourself and that you can use are, for example, friends, pets, hobbies or a good atmosphere in your job. Ask yourself which resource you can activate in a certain, stressful or scary moment in order to feel better quickly. The more specific your idea, the better. Perhaps you can think of a certain friend whom you could call right away; or maybe you can get rid of your excess energy right now with your favorite sport.
Accept your negative emotions
No matter what it is that helps you – you should avoid one mistake: Do not suppress your stress and fear. “Many people think that unpleasant emotions or thoughts gain power over them as soon as they deal with them,” says psychologist Rentsch. The opposite is the case: if you deal with your fears, you get control over them faster. “It’s no wonder that many of us are feeling overwhelmed and scared right now,” says the expert. “The important thing is to accept these feelings.” So admit to yourself when you feel bad. This is the only way you can change something about it.
Many are not used to this friendly approach to themselves. “In stressful life situations, many people are tougher than usual,” explains Alena Rentsch. They believe that they will have to work harder than usual to weather the crisis and are neglecting their needs rather than listening to them. “Instead of hardship and iron discipline, we need something completely different for a stress-free life,” says Rensch. “Namely, trust in ourselves, effective problem-solving strategies and access to our feelings and thoughts.” The good news: Anyone can learn that.
Incidentally, the psychologist has her own strategy for dealing with corona stress, she explains. She keeps it with a rule of three: “Meditate, eat ice cream, listen to Christian Drosten.” What is otherwise good for your psyche and can be easily integrated into your everyday life, Alena Rentsch explains in our picture gallery.