Coping with anxiety during COVID-19

In these challenging and unprecedented times, the constant news about the coronavirus pandemic can feel relentless. Being concerned about the news is understandable, but for many, it can make existing mental health problems worse, particularly those already living with conditions like anxiety and OCD.

It is normal to feel worried or panicked due to the ever-evolving situation. If you feel anxious, stressed or concerned here are some tips to help support your own mental wellbeing.

If you are feeling anxious about coronavirus, think about what triggers the anxiety.

Think about how your body feels when you get increasingly anxious; how worried are you; what goes through your mind and what do you fear the most? Then think about what helps you handle such worries. This is very individual. Think about what helps to calm you or what helps you cope with these feelings of anxiety.

By being more aware of your thoughts and feelings you can try to incorporate more calming measures into your daily life.

Balance out your emotions by looking at the facts. Read reputable sources of information from the World Health Organisation, government websites and the NHS. Trustworthy sources cause less speculation which can reduce anxiety, you can also use this information to take practical steps to protect yourself and loved ones.

Limit the amount of time you spend reading or watching things that cause you to feel anxious and distressed. Being concerned about media reporting is understandable, so take control by deciding when you want to get the latest updates.

Keep connected with your family and friends. We work better when we are supported, especially under stress. Use technology that works for you to help you stay connected. Make plans with your household on how you will spend your time together. Why not try out new recipes, play games, read books, exercise, spring clean the house or garden?

It’s important at this time to do things that you enjoy and that make you happy. As the world is slowing down, enjoy the little things in life and create a routine that brings comfort and stability.

Minimise the use of unhelpful coping strategies such as smoking, alcohol or other drugs. In the long term, these can worsen your mental and physical wellbeing.

It is easy to feel overwhelmed right now and to worry about things. Reset your mind and focus your energy on what you can control rather than what you cannot, letting go of the things you are unable to influence or change.

I can control:

  • My positive attitude
  • Turning off the news
  • Finding fun things to do at home
  • Following WHO guidelines, government and NHS recommendations
  • Limiting my social media
  • My social distancing
  • My kindness and grace

I cannot control:

  • Will others follow the rules of social distancing?
  • Predicting what will happen
  • The actions of others
  • How others react
  • Supermarket supplies
  • How long this will last

If it all feels too much, do not forget to ask for help. Talk to other people about what you’re going through. There’s no right way to respond to this because it’s never happened before.

Give yourself some credit, more than likely others are feeling the same.

For more information on coping with anxiety, check out these additional resources.

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