Feelings of anxiety are completely normal during a pandemic. We share tips to help you manage negative thoughts and protect your mental wellbeing.
COVID-19 is at the forefront of all our minds, causing many of us to feel worried or panicked. It’s a new situation and one that’s changing every day.
Anxiety is often rooted in worrying about the unknown, something that can cause a variety of other negative emotions too. If you’re feeling stressed, sad, low or overwhelmed, you are not alone. Millions of people across the country are feeling the same.
In unprecedented times like this, you might find yourself behaving and reacting in unexpected ways. Try to cut yourself some slack; most people are finding the pandemic hard to come to terms with.
If anxiety about coronavirus is becoming an issue, it’s important to recognise how you’re feeling and take action to prevent the concern from consuming you.
Here are a few ways you can take positive action to prevent anxiety from consuming you.
Take a break from news stories and social media
Being concerned about the news is understandable. However, the amount of news we choose to engage with can influence our mental wellbeing. It’s important to find the right balance, so you’re staying informed without becoming alarmed.
Limit the amount of time you spend reading or watching news items and be mindful of the time you spend on social media. If they are not making you feel better, is it worth engaging with them?
Decide when you want to get the latest news — perhaps in the morning and again in the evening – and then resist the urge to read articles and watch news throughout the rest of the day.
Whatever you do, don’t leave the TV on in the background all day.
Choose your sources carefully
It's normal to experience intense feelings right now, so be careful about the types – and sources – of information you’re consuming. Rumour and speculation can cause anxiety, while having good quality information about your concerns can help you to feel more in control.
Make sure to take advice and guidance from reputable sources such as the World Health Organisation, Government and NHS websites. Check things you see on social media. There is a lot of incorrect information out there. It's important to balance out emotions with logic by looking at the facts.
Look for positive media that reports healthy actions as this may help you feel better, and it could motivate you to take more positive action.
If you want somewhere to start, the BBC has gathered a selection of stories highlighting creativity and kindness during the outbreak.
The way we communicate with our friends, family and colleagues will change over the coming weeks while we abide by social distancing guidelines. What is most important is that we stay connected. At times of stress, we deal best when we feel supported.
Make the most of modern technology to stay in touch – especially calls and video chats. Hearing a voice, seeing a face – these will make you feel more connected.
If you are working from home, check in with colleagues and have virtual coffee breaks where you can share your interests with one another. Use this time to discuss topics that aren’t work related and talk about something more light-hearted.
During times of stress, worry or heightened anxiety, it’s more important than ever to make time to do something that makes you feel happy.
Make a point of still doing the things you enjoy, even if it is as simple as enjoying some time spent in your garden.
With gyms now closed it may be harder to find time and space to work out, but it’s still so important. Physical activity can greatly reduce anxiety.
Create workouts you can do in your home or garden or join an online class. There are so many available, many of which are free.
It’s always important to eat well, and now more than ever. Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet will boost your mental and physical health in countless ways.
Eating well will boost your immune system as well as your mood. Start with something simple yet delicious – like our spicy aubergine pasta.
Get a good night’s sleep
Sleeping well can reduce anxiety, while not getting enough sleep can make you feel more stressed. Don’t underestimate the power of rest when it comes to protecting your mental wellbeing.
Focus on the things you can control
There are many things you can’t control right now. The spread of COVID-19, school closures, government guidelines, how other people observe social distancing…
The more you focus on these things, the more out of control and anxious you will feel.
Focus instead on the things you can control. What steps can you take to keep you and your family safe? How can you make sure to keep your distance from others? What can you do to make this time inside more fun?
Gaining a sense of control over something – however small – can help you to feel calmer. Why not sit down and create a schedule for tomorrow, or plan your week ahead?
Now that you have a little more time in your hands, fill it with productive activities that you’ll enjoy.
Cook new recipes reach out to friends and family, have a spring clean.
If you’re really struggling, ask for help
If it all feels too much, don’t forget to ask for help or support. Talking to other people about what you're going through can reduce your anxiety.
If you don't have close friends or family members to reach out to during this time, find people you can talk to by looking for forums, online help groups, or others who want to connect.
If you think you need professional help, don’t let the situation stop you from reaching out. Many mental health specialists have adapted to offer counselling remotely.
To find out more call us on 0808 101 0337
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