The power of routine: The what-ifs and the uncontrollables

Eleana Davidson on 20 April 2020
A woman planning at a table.

You may have noticed recently that your mood can change much quicker than usual, your sleeping pattern may have gone a bit skew-whiff and some days may even feel a bit ‘heavy’.

Well, alongside our friends at Fika, we take a look at why these heightened emotions are normal during this uncertain time and what we can do to help keep them under control as much as possible.

So what can we do to manage our stress and anxiety? 

Control the things you can control

Whether it’s mapping out the meals you’re going to be eating this week, or working towards a uni deadline, controlling these ‘smaller’ things can give you a much stronger sense of control, which can help lessen those inner battles. But thoughts of ‘what if’ there’s a second lockdown later this year, or ‘what if’ my predicted grades aren’t what they’re supposed to be can still happen too, and that’s okay.

How to deal with the ‘what if’ thoughts

The problem with those ‘what-if’ thoughts is that there’s very little you or anyone else can do to relieve, prove or disprove them. But what you can do is work towards accepting that you can’t control the ‘what if’s and practice techniques of mindfulness and gratitude. Rather than looking to the unknown, look to what you do know instead; you’re healthy, alive, and this is only temporary. And let your ‘what-if’ thoughts float on by. 

What to do next 

Feeling anxious and worried is normal and will be for the next few months at least. But routine can help keep you grounded and focused. What’s for dinner, how many words of that essay have I written today, where am I going for my daily walk? When thoughts of anxiety come your way (and they will) picture them as clouds in the sky, that will come and go. They don’t need to be banished from your mind, and you don’t have to feel embarrassed that they’re there. Just watch them come and go, and know that it’s fine if they come back. 

Be kind to yourself, and generous to others - this isn’t easy. For more helpful tips from Dr Fran and other students like yourself, and practical skills to stay mentally fit during COVID-19, visit the Fika app and check out the new Community feature. 

Eleana Davidson
Eleana Davidson on 20 April 2020