Fears, stress & worries have escalated ten folds these past few months, from keeping you up at night or distracted during the day, this global pandemic has seriously impaired the health of a lot of us, mentally & physically. Have you been constantly thinking that you or your loved ones will contract the virus? And if they did, they might not get the right medical supplies or care?
Are you constantly Googling the latest updates on the pandemic, or stockpiling food supplies excessively? If yes, then you, my friend, you’re catastrophizing. If not, read on anyway, who knows someday you might catastrophize too?
Well, we’re all aware of what a catastrophe means, right? It’s “a disaster.”
Similarly, think of catastrophizing as a mental disaster, where your neurons are both the cause & the symptom. It’s a thinking trap that your neurons lay and get trapped in eventually.
In a sophisticated language, it’s a cognitive distortion. It’s just another word for the way our brain misbehaves with us, and there’s a sweet possibility for us to fall victim to this misbehavior during this unprecedented time. How can one cope up with catastrophizing?
1. Say Stop to your Inner Critic
There’s a Lil’ you sitting comfortably inside your brain, your inner critic, who began brewing all the catastrophes in your mind. Ask him/her to STOP. Disrupt your thought process over & over again, until it stops forecasting negativity in all your future events, and consider a positive outcome instead.
2. Breathe. Meditate. Relax
When we’re stressed, it becomes difficult to concentrate, there’s poor impulse control and decreased empathy to convey. It’s crucially important to calm our autonomic nervous system to be able to think reasonably & self-soothe. Slower your heart rate using deep breathing techniques and activate a relaxation mode in your mind & body. Stress not only affects your neurons but also tightens and stiffens your muscles. Gain some physical comfort by tightening & releasing sets of muscles one by one for some muscle relaxation. When we calm ourselves down, both mentally & physically, it becomes easier to challenge catastrophizing thoughts.
3. Self-Care > Everything Else
You invite negative thoughts into your mind when you don’t get enough sleep, proper food & nutrition, and some physical as well as a mental exercise. Note: they’re equally important. Plant some seeds in the soil, get some workouts done, skip/run/jog, cook your favourite dish, or breathe some fresh air by the windowsill. Whatever pleases you, and keeps you moving, do it! When you’re a sleep-deprived human, you’ll eventually become hypersensitive to any kind of a threat or a negative thought.
4. Cut Irrational Thoughts
Before we get down to cutting & chopping, let’s first try & identify them. It all begins with being informed of the current scenario around you, consult reliable sources of information regarding the pandemic. Once you’re well aware of the reality, it becomes easier to identify the unrealistic ones. If you find yourself thinking, “Covid-19 will get me, and I’ll end up dead.”, stop! These thoughts follow a particular pattern, and once you’re successful in recognizing them, you’ll be able to fight against it.
This rhythm of life that we’ve been living for the past couple of months is different & unusual, agreed. However, this isn’t the time to forego our mental health. Take a social media detox, minimize your screen time, or read a book! Don’t let the virus that’s outside step foot into your brain, stop catastrophizing today.