Tips for getting through the COVID marathon

COVID-19 has affected every part of our lives. As we face much uncertainty about when it will end, this pandemic can feel like a marathon. We didn’t sign up for it and we don’t know where the finish line is, yet we need to somehow persevere.

When many things are out of our control, it can help to focus on the things we can control, such as building our resilience.

So how can we prepare ourselves to go the distance? Here are 10 training tips to help you get through the COVID marathon.

1. Acknowledge your own experience of this pandemic

Everyone has a unique set of hurdles to overcome. Allow yourself to feel what you feel, without judging or comparing yourself with others.

2. Use your personal strengths

We all have personal qualities (e.g. sense of humour, determined spirit, creative thinking – the list goes on!) that have helped us cope with hard times before. Reflect on what your strengths are and use them to help you now.

3. Fuel your body to get fitter

Improve your stamina with healthy eating, good sleep and exercise. Seek medical attention for any health concerns, coronavirus related or otherwise. Keep treating any chronic (physical or mental) health issues.

4. Manage stress in helpful ways

Focus on one step at a time. Take steps to fix solvable problems. Keep anxious thoughts in check so your thinking is more balanced, realistic and helpful.

5. Increase positive emotions

Plan activities each day that are enjoyable and give you a sense of achievement. These can be simple things that may help to boost your mood. Be flexible in finding alternatives if COVID-19 restrictions limit your usual activities.  

6. Make wise choices about consuming media

Avoid extremes like checking the news obsessively or switching off altogether. Consume enough so you can keep up to date, follow health advice and make plans. Create sensible limits for yourself if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

7. Balance what you think and talk about

COVID-19 can easily dominate your headspace and conversations. Take breaks by doing and talking about other things, to stay level-headed and preserve some normality.

8. Stay connected and strengthen your relationships

Be deliberate about getting your socialisation needs met and look out for others too. If restrictions allow you to meet with others in person, openly communicate and negotiate about what you are all comfortable doing, while respecting each other’s preferences.

9. Look after yourself in lockdown

Be kind and compassionate with yourself and those you live with. Take one day or even one hour at a time, when the going gets tough. Experiment with different strategies to stay physically and mentally well.

10. Cheer yourself on and reach out if needed

Look for small wins, give yourself praise and encouragement regularly. There is no shame in letting your doctor, family member or friend know if you’re struggling and need more support. It can be easier to keep going with others alongside you.

Try these tips to empower yourself to stay well during this challenging marathon of a pandemic.

For more free psychological tools to help you cope, head over to This Way Up for online, evidence based courses for dealing with stress, anxiety and low mood.