Staying Focused in midst of COVID-19

Promoting a Focused Mindset in the Midst of COVID-19

While the immense long term physical health and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic is on virtually everyone’s minds, what often goes unnoticed is the mental wellbeing of individuals in the face of these unprecedented times.

This is the unique challenge facing healthcare workers treating patients in a post shelter in-place world, where newfound emotional stressors have created difficulty in staying optimistic on a day to day basis.

Fighting Anxiety to Apathy, the Mind Killer

Anxiety. Shame. Guilt. Pain. Fear.

According to Dr. Kristin Osborn from the Kaizen Brain Center, these are common emotional states that occur in individuals in response to stressful circumstances that can in turn activate “defensive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors” or coping mechanisms that provide individuals a way to deflect from fully experiencing the bleakness of their situation.The most common way in doing so is through indifference and apathy, in which patients may be less motivated to work, less receptive to taking medical advice, and overall less optimistic in their daily life.

So how does one counter a patient’s own apathy and indifference? Dr. Osborn recommends tackling the emotional factors that cause these behaviors through a 6 different methods:

  1. Calming the System Down: A patient’s inner anxiety and fears can be countered with kindness and compassion. This offers the patient a warm response that they might not have received in most interactions, giving them a sense of relief.
  2. Revitalization: This involves directly relating with the patient and grounding them in reality. Common methods include inquiring about hobbies, interests, passions, or anything that brings them joy in life. Revealing a shared interest is also a strong method in increasing connection and regulating anxiety.
  3. Challenge & Ownership: In some instances, challenging the patient to confront their current emotional state and to seek improvement. This can be done by asking direct questions such as “Do you want to continue to feel indifferent and apathetic?”. Doing so forces the patient into the pilot seat in order to assert themselves over their own emotions.
  4. Compassion: Understanding the circumstances that are causing a patient’s anxiety and indifference can do wonders in not only identifying specific stressful triggers but also revealing opportunities to promote positive support at their lower point.
  5. Control: This method involves allowing a patient to regain some agency in their lives despite their hardships. Having a structure or routine is helpful in taking control, such as regularly scheduled exercises, activities, events, and dietary practices.
  6. Connection: Especially during COVID-19, it is vital to promote relationships with others and to build connections with their daily activities. One should not dwell on their predicament but instead be proud of their own progress and find meaning behind what they do everyday.

To learn more about structuring a focused mindset during difficult times, visit the Kaizen Brain Center at