Three tips from a psychologist to keep calm during a global pandemic

Clinical psychologist Dr Sarb Johal, has written a book called Steady: Keeping Calm in a World Gone Viral.  

It’s a self-help guide that is full of easy-to-follow, practical tools and tips that can be used in any crisis or change of circumstance to keep our mental health intact.

An expert in emergency management and disaster psychology, Dr Johal’s expertise, accumulated over a 30-year career, was central in our world-leading response that saw COVID-19 stamped out in our communities.

Steady: Keeping Calm in a World Gone Viral 

Dr Johal offers us three tips we can all follow to help us reduce stress and contain feelings of panic in these unprecedented times.

Activate your calming system

Uncertainty is synonymous with the COVID pandemic. When your brain is responding as if you are in imminent danger, it’s difficult to do anything else. Activities like deep breathing presses the brake and allows us to access the more creative and strategic facets of our minds, to bring new solutions to bear.


In an unexpected or prolonged crisis, structure gets us through. Creating some sense of order can restore safety to our world. Set up new routines for you and your family and stick to them. Dr Johal suggests writing ourselves an email at the end of each day listing all the things we managed to get done. This captures our progress and keeps us motivated.

Identify unproductive worrying

Unproductive worries make us feel anxious and uncertain and this can become a vicious cycle. Instead of letting the worries go round and round in your head, try keeping a worry journal. Set aside a defined period of time, say 15 minutes, when you give yourself permission to worry. Write all your fears down in a notebook. The journal can act as a parking space, so your unproductive worries don’t keep circling around your mind looking for a space to park.

For more helpful tips on how we looking after your mental health during a crisis, grab a copy of Steady: Keeping Calm in a World Gone Viral by Dr Sarb Johal. Out now in all good bookstores and also available as an e-book.

Website: www.sarbjohal.com.

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