How Do I Stop Worrying About Coronavirus
Anxiety and general worry are completely natural feelings that can easily run out of control; many people experience increased anxiety because of unexpected changes in lifestyle or a feeling of uncertainty. During the Covid-19 crisis we have all experienced significant disruption to our way of life and the unmistakeable feeling of helplessness and uncertainty. Anxiety is best thought of as a sliding scale rather than a distinct condition, and we all need to ensure that we do not go too far in the direction of stress and worry, especially at the moment. Luckily, there are techniques and tricks we can all use, regardless of whether we are suffering severely, to calm ourselves and take back some control of our wellbeing.
During lockdown, it is common to experience feelings of loneliness and disconnectedness, and whilst we must follow social distancing guidelines, we can still make efforts to stay connected with others. Seeing or hearing from a familiar face can be helpful, as well as simple interactions with others we may not know – it is a reminder that we are not in this as individuals, but instead we are all going through this difficult time together. Make efforts to talk about your worries, sharing concerns with those you trust takes some weight off your shoulders and can help you to see things from a different perspective. This can be a friend, a member of family, a helpline or a professional therapist.
Reach out to others in need
Reach out to others that you think may be worried or in need of support; any good deed like this can make you feel better and the person is likely to appreciate you reaching out, and be more likely to return the favour. Do not be afraid to make the first move as a conversation about how you are feeling is likely to benefit both parties.
It is helpful to take notice of what you are focusing your mind on and avoiding those things which you recognise as unhelpful thoughts. Do things you enjoy to take your mind off worrying thoughts, when we feel low and anxious we often stop doing those things we enjoy and let our dark thoughts exert control. Make an effort to focus on relaxing, enjoy your favourite hobby or talk to others about different things to capture your focus.
Stay in Control
It is important to recognise those things which we can and cannot control. As individuals we cannot control how long the pandemic lasts, how others behave or what will happen in our communities. It is tempting to respond by endlessly searching for answers and theories, but it is important to accept that these are out of our control and instead focus on what we can control in the present. We can control whether we practice good habits for our mental health, and whilst there is no ‘perfect’ solution or cure, focusing on practising good habits and making small changes in the right direction will have a benefit.
Choose your source
When following the news or keeping up to date with the state of the virus, make sure you get information from credible and objective sources (such as the NHS website or WHO). Avoid dwelling on information from newsfeeds, social media and other people – these are more likely to be sensationalist and often are not aiming to be reliable news sources. Consider limiting the time you spend watching, reading or listening to coverage of the virus and remember that you only need to know basic facts about the virus and the latest social distancing guidelines. Perhaps set a specific time to read updates or limit to a couple of checks per day.
Healthy mind, healthy body
The health of our body and mind are closely related and looking after your physical health will help you to look after your mental health. Recognise and avoid unhealthy patterns of behaviour, eating healthy balanced meals at regular times, drinking enough water and exercising regularly are simple ways to improve your health. There are many resources online with short exercises for all levels that can be done at home, and getting outside for a walk or run can be great for clearing your mind; try to exercise routinely and ideally get an average of 20-30 minutes of moderate exercise per day.
Getting a good nights sleep
Aside from diet and exercise, it is also important to get good quality sleep and maintain good ‘sleep hygiene’; avoid using screens for at least 20 minutes before bed, cut back on caffeine (especially later in the day) and create a restful environment for yourself. It is also useful to maintain a regular and reasonable sleeping pattern where possible.
If you feel yourself start to spin into negative thoughts or panic, ‘grounding’ yourself in the present moment can stop the negative spiral and allow your rational brain to take back control. Recognising and stopping these panics can be difficult but with practice will become second nature and is an effective way to combat stress. Relaxation techniques such as meditation and mindfulness can help you to deal with negative thoughts by focusing on the present and removing unnecessary negative thoughts.
A simple yet effective technique: Bring your attention to your breath and your body, focussing all of your attention on the here and now: noticing the sights, sounds and smells around you and on what you’re feeling in your body. Continue to breath slowly in and out, gently bringing you mind back to your body and breath every time it drifts – until you feel calmer.
Practising these techniques and habits will contribute to better mental wellbeing and reduce incidence of stress and anxiety in all people. For those people who suffer from more extreme anxiety, especially because of coronavirus, seeking expert therapy can be an effective remedy. If you would like to know more about our services and how we can help control anxiety about Coronavirus give us a call on 0117 9277 577.