Coronavirus: Why Everyone Should Prioritize Mental Health and Effective Thinking Strategies
Written by: Alec Lom
During the past 17 years, leading British therapist and one of the world’s top ‘rapid-change experts’ Howard Cooper has devoted his professional life to helping many thousands of people overcome a range of anxieties and phobias, such as fear of flying, and other terrors such as dogs, cats, and spiders. Now that Coronavirus is casting its shadow over more than 180 countries, he is, not surprisingly, busier than ever helping clients with health anxiety.
However, despite the current pandemic and the restrictions it is forcing on the business community, many companies continue to thrive. Physiotherapists now offer video consultations, personal trainers are hosting exercise classes on YouTube, and manufacturers of home-gym equipment are selling out. Garden centers report booming online sales of seeds to grow your own fruit and vegetables. According to a new Corona-inspired survey on LinkedIn, the time we all spend consuming online content has risen sharply, by 39 percent in the past four weeks. So, how can companies, and especially their leaders, maintain a positive attitude? How can individuals, employees in their millions now working from home, look after their mental health and develop the right mindset in the current conditions? How can business entrepreneurs, normally driven by the adrenaline surge and daily challenge of innovation, adapt to the new Coronavirus environment, where management teams converse only by Zoom and Skype, and meetings are now only held ‘virtually’? Howard Cooper is a qualified hypnotherapist and Master Practitioner in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), who specializes in helping people create rapid shifts in their thinking. He believes that, whether you are trying to overcome a lifelong fear of dogs, whether you’re battling Coronavirus anxiety, or whether you’re over-stressed about saving your business in the face of fierce adversity, change, to your way of thinking – and to your lifestyle – can be rapid. He has a wide range of experience when it comes to engaging with the corporate sector. His experience includes supporting people across Europe and the US, and mainly in the UK, also working with many top corporates, including Deloitte, Virgin Atlantic, Slater Gordon, and the British Paralympic Association. He has coached many senior executives in high-level business positions to cope with anxiety-related work issues. Cooper, 38, who runs a busy practice on the outskirts of London, first developed an interest in helping others after experiencing his own traumas as a teenager. He was diagnosed with a severe panic attack and anxiety disorder when he was 16 and began a lengthy course of treatment. “I went through three and half years of ‘week-in,-week-out’ counseling which resulted in understanding my therapist’s theory as to why I was screwed up. The only problem was that I wasn’t really much better. Her take on it though was that at least “I understood why”. I decided that instead of focusing on methods to explore why I was like I was, it would be more prudent to focus on how to change it moving forwards.” Now a parent himself, he’s able to help people of all ages, many of them business executives and office employees who are suffering from work-related stress, an all-too-common complaint in today’s corporate sector.
Video consultations: 'effective and popular'
“At my practice, I’m just launching a new 12-week Corona anxiety support program,” adds Cooper. It’s aimed at helping people who are struggling with Corona worries or ‘lock-down’ overwhelm as we have all been told by our government that we must remain ‘locked down’ indoors and there are severe restrictions on our movement outdoors. “I’m also often contacted by people who are struggling to cope with claustrophobia as they have spent months training for sporting events, like running a marathon. Thousands of sporting events, such as horse racing meetings, football matches, the Wimbledon Tennis Tournament, and many more have all been canceled, so if you're a runner, cyclist or cross-country trailer, people are feeling very downcast right now."
“A lot of my work as a rapid-change expert is conducted by online and video consultations via my website, on Skype. They are very effective and increasingly popular. I support clients from many walks of life and here, I’ve listed a handful of mental strategies that apply to everyone from sports enthusiasts to business leaders. These are my Top 5 Mental Tips on ‘How To cope more effectively with Corona-virus Worries’.
Tip #1: STAY PRESENT
What are you actually experiencing right now? Sitting at a computer, tablet or phone reading an article in your home? This is something that you have done many times before, right? Realize that If you stop adding ‘narrative’ and ‘thinking’ to this current situation there is actually nothing different for you going on than before the virus or lock-down. Take time regularly to bring your attention back to ‘being present’ and your direct experience in the moment.
Tip #2: REALIZE THE TRUTH ABOUT FEELINGS
Most people get swept up in all the fear and anxiety coming from the internet and then incorrectly come to the conclusion that everything is beyond despair. However, there are also lots of positive things to focus on. Around 96 percent of people are surviving; the world carries on turning; pollution levels are down; we are all getting a gift of some time to reflect on where we are at and the choices we are making. Taking time regularly to focus on ‘what’s good’ and ‘what we are grateful for’ literally begins to wire the brain for more positivity in the future. And guess what? People who are more positive, calm and clear-headed deal best in times of uncertainty.things will be at all! Realizing this can be a great comfort.
Tip #3: FOCUS ON YOUR BODY’S NATURAL CENTRE
When people get overwhelmed or anxious, they often start running all sorts of rapid internal catastrophic thinking. In other words, they are very focused on ‘stuff in their head’. They think: ‘What if it lasts forever?’, ‘When will I be able to work with office colleagues again?’, ‘How will I earn money?, and this list goes on. If you were to catch yourself running these patterns, do the following: Stop and bring your awareness to your body’s natural center (this is the area around 3 centimeters below your navel). Strangely placing your focus here tends to calm the mind, and create a feeling of being stronger, stable and more centered.
Tip #4: REMOVE PRESSURE
Many people are putting pressure on themselves to be productive during lock-down, maintain perfect eating habits or exercise plans. While it’s all well and good to have a desire to do these things, remember to go easy on yourself, too. These are unprecedented times and uncharted territory, so be kind to yourself if you aren’t as productive as you’d normally be. If you tell yourself, you have to or must be perfect at all times, then you are more likely to be very hard on yourself up if you don’t manage this. But if you tell yourself that you’d like to get things done, but understand you don’t have to, that can often help alleviate the psychological pressure. Ironically, when you do this, you are likely to get more done because there is less stress in the system around doing it.
Tip #5: FOCUS ON POSITIVES & GRATITUDE
It’s easy to get swept up in all the fear and anxiety coming from the internet and then incorrectly come to the conclusion that everything is beyond despair. However, there are also lots of positive things to focus on. Around 96 per cent of people are surviving; the world carries on turning; pollution levels are down; we are all getting a gift of some time to reflect on where we are at and the choices we are making. Taking time regularly to focus on ‘what’s good’ and ‘what we are grateful for’ literally begins to wire the brain for more positivity in the future. And guess what? People who are more positive, calm and clear-headed deal best in times of uncertainty.
My hope for people during this time of challenge is to learn about mental resilience so that they do not just help themselves now, but that this will help them become better-armed and more resilient in the future when this pandemic is over (and by the way, it will be over at some point). Just imagine how successfully you will be able to thrive, both as a business professional and as a person in the future when you develop these mental skills and apply them to your lives even after the world has closed the chapter on Coronavirus and moved on.
If you’re struggling with Coronavirus anxiety, help is available through Howard Cooper’s new 12-week Corona anxiety support program
Howard Cooper is one of Britain’s leading ‘Rapid Change’ experts. A qualified hypnotherapist and Master Practitioner in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), he specializes in helping people create rapid shifts in their thinking. For details of his work, see www.rapidchange.works
Alec Lom is a journalist and media expert in the UK whose articles have appeared in a wide variety of newspapers and magazines, including The Daily Telegraph. A specialist in the health and well-being sector, he also worked for many years at BBC Television www.aleclom.com