• As we navigate the unchartered waters of the coronavirus pandemic, what can we do to make the most of our present situation?

  • Therapist Jay Rai shares 5 empowering tips to help you keep calm and use this moment to your best advantage

  • If you need to talk to a therapist, start your search here 

Well hasn’t 2020 handed us a real curveball, with unprecedented circumstances literally turning all our lives upside down! Being caught alone during such a time can be a terrifying experience for most people. The time and space that is available to you during self-isolation can work wonders for your creative drive, and can bring you life-changing benefits.

As history has shown us time and again, humanity’s greatest strength is how it creates, survives and prospers during the worst of times. If you take this time to truly get to know yourself, get to know your passions, your aspirations, your longings, your ideas, the self-isolation will pass by in no time. And the results will be more than worth it.

With that said, I thought I would share my top tips on how we can truly use this time to empower ourselves and emerge at the end of this tunnel (and we will emerge!), with a deeper understanding that there is a magnificent opportunity for us to seize which will forever forge a healthier relationship with ourselves and loved ones. So here’s how we can stay mentally strong….  


1. Focus on your strengths (not your fears!)

Our brains right now are highly sensitive to what we could lose (or what could go wrong) than they are to what could be gained (or what could go right!).

Fear has a way of hijacking rational thinking, driving us to terrorise ourselves with horror images that, in reality, are very unlikely, if not outright implausible. The more anxious the climate, the more deliberate you need to be to reset your attention towards the positive outcomes you want to create rather than fretting about all you don’t.

So, if we want to experience positivity, we should follow the thoughts that conduce to those qualities, and leave the others aside. And, amazingly, modern neuroscientific studies on the brain’s plasticity have confirmed this.

2. Speak calmly (and avoid melodramatic language)

Our words create our reality. If you start describing a situation with Armageddon like language that’s exactly how your body and mind will experience it. This isn’t about denying unpleasant realities and downplaying legitimate dangers. It simply means that you don’t talk them up.

When you use language that implies that you trust yourself to meet your challenges as they arise, you not only spare yourself a lot of stress, you also spare others by not spreading it.

3. Stay away from fear-mongers (or dial your engagement right down)

Fear fuels fear. If you’re continually engaging in conversations with anxious people who are absorbed in fear-casting and catastrophising, you’ll find it hard not to let their anxieties become your own. While it’s important to avoid negative energy draining people at the best of times, when fear is running amok, it’s even more critical. So just as you try to minimise exposure to viruses, you also need to minimise exposure to people who fuel stress. And if you’re in a WhatsApp chat group with up to the minute doomsday warnings, do yourself a favour and get out of it ASAP.

4. Boost empowering practices

The best safeguard against any virus is a strong immune system. There are very few things that compromise our immune system more than stress. So, when fear sets in, the best thing to do for your wellbeing is practice activities that help you destress, feel stronger and handle your challenges better.

The obvious ones, which I know have been drummed into us already, are; Exercise. Eat well. Get sleep. Meditate. Journal. Get out in nature (well for the one daily exercise that we are permitted). Prioritise your schedule. Basically, do more of whatever activities rebalance, recharge and reset your headspace. Many people may also lean on you for support and reassurance, so it is vital that you recharge and ground yourself first (i.e. put on your oxygen mask before helping others).

5.  Join a cause

There is strength and solidarity in numbers. Joining a cause heightens your power because you share and receive potent energy in group efforts. What one person lacks another person has, and this makes a group energetically complete. Work with others towards a goal you all believe in and become involved in bringing about change you want to see.

In summary, it is by taking a few deep long breaths, then taking calm decisive action in the presence of our fear that we dilute its power, and amplify your own strengths. It is times like these that each of us is called upon to reel in our fears and start leading the change we’d like to see in those around us.

Finally, Let us remember, positivity and courage are contagious too!

Jay Rai is a verified welldoing.org therapist who works online and in Central London

Further reading

6 mindfulness meditation videos

Grounding exercise to regulate anxiety

How I turned my anxiety into creativity

How creativity boosts your mental health

The psychological impact of coronavirus