‘FACE COVID’ is a set of practical steps for responding effectively to the Corona crisis, using the principles of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). Here’s a quick summary of the key steps, and in the pages that follow we’ll explore them all in more depth:
- F = Focus on what’s in your control
- A = Acknowledge your thoughts & feelings
- C = Come back into your body
- E = Engage in what you’re doing
- C = Committed action
- O = Opening up
- V = Values
- I = Identify resources
- D = Disinfect & distance
F = Focus on what’s in your control
The single most useful thing anyone can do in any type of crisis – Corona-related or otherwise – is to: focus on what’s in your control.
You can’t control what happens in the future. You can’t control Corona virus itself or the world economy or how your government manages this whole sordid mess. And you can’t magically control your feelings, eliminating all that perfectly natural fear and anxiety. But you can control what you do – here and now. And that matters.
A = Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings
Silently and kindly acknowledge whatever is ‘showing up’ inside you: thoughts, feelings, emotions, memories, sensation, urges. Take the stance of a curious scientist, observing what’s going on in your inner world.
C = Come back into your body
Come back into and connect with your physical body. Find your own way of doing this. You could try some or all of the following, or find your own methods:
• Slowly pushing your feet hard into the floor.
• Slowly straightening up your back and spine; if sitting, sitting upright and forward in your chair.
• Slowly pressing your fingertips together
• Slowly stretching your arms or neck, shrugging your shoulders.
• Slowly breathing
E = Engage in what you’re doing
Get a sense of where you are and refocus your attention on the activity you are doing. Find your own way of doing this. You could try some or all of the following suggestions, or find your own methods:
• Look around the room and notice 5 things you can see.
• Notice 3 or 4 things you can hear.
• Notice what you can smell or taste or sense in your nose and mouth
• Notice what you are doing
C = Committed Action
Committed action means effective action, guided by your core values; action you take because it’s truly important to you; action you take even if it brings up difficult thoughts and feelings.
Now obviously that includes all those protective measures against Corona – frequent handwashing, social distancing, and so on. But in addition to those fundamentals of effective action, consider:
What are simple ways to look after yourself, those you live with, and those you can realistically help? What kind, caring, supportive deeds you can do?
O = Opening up
Opening up means making room for difficult feelings and being kind to yourself. Difficult feelings are guaranteed to keep on showing up as this crisis unfolds: fear, anxiety, anger, sadness, guilt, loneliness, frustration, confusion, and many more. We can’t stop them from arising; they’re normal reactions. But we can open up and make room for them: acknowledge they are normal, allow them to be there (even though they hurt), and treat ourselves kindly.
Remember, self-kindness is essential if you want to cope well with this crisis – especially if you are in a caregiver role.
V = Values
Committed action should be guided by your core values: What do you want to stand for in the face of this crisis? What sort of person do you want to be, as you go through this? How do you want to treat yourself and others?
Your values might include love, respect, humour, patience, courage, honesty, caring, openness, kindness …. or numerous others. Look for ways to ‘sprinkle’ these values into your day. Let them guide and motivate your committed action.
I = Identify resources
Identify resources for help, assistance, support, and advice. This includes friends, family, neighbours, health professionals, emergency services. And make sure you know the emergency helpline phone numbers, including psychological help if required.
Also reach out to your social networks. And if you are able to offer support to others, let them know; you can be a resource for other people, just as they can for you.
D = Disinfect & distance physically
I’m sure you already know this, but it’s worth repeating: disinfect your hands regularly and practice as much social distancing as realistically possible, for the greater good of your community. And remember, we’re talking about physical distancing – not cutting off emotionally.