The Coronavirus pandemic will have life-changing effects on everyone. Unfortunately, there can be a huge impact on mental health and wellbeing as people are forced to change their daily living. These demands can trigger stress, anxiety and fear.
Coronavirus impacts every part of our lives. It makes us feel unsettled in our work and with personal issues. Decisions need to be made when there is so much uncertainty and evolving information. There are demands on our time to look after children or older adults. There are unprecedented demands on our finances as work is reduced or even stops. There are also demands to change routines and isolate ourselves. Major events are postponed or cancelled. For example, weddings are postponed, and other social and sporting events are cancelled. It’s that stressful.
Some people try to counterbalance this stress and fear through self- defeating behaviours such as drinking too much alcohol, eating too much or panic buying and hoarding. But these things won’t help.
Identify the Issues and Ways to Feel Better
Coronavirus anxiety presents in a similar way to other anxieties, but as it has a huge impact on so many people at the same time, so it brings intense stress, anxiety and fear. People feel out of control.
Firstly, it can cause physical tension because we all tense our muscles when we feel stressed. Staying indoors or not doing the same amount of exercise will mean less activity. If you are bored at home, you may also sit around and watch television rather than have regular physical activity. This might lead to backache, headaches or general aches and pains. Lack of exercise due to staying indoors can add to the tension.
Gently stretching, relaxation and walking will help muscular tension. Some people might do Yoga. The current Government recommendation is to go out and exercise once each day. This could be walking, running or cycling while keeping 2 meters away from others.
Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety related to the Coronavirus can also contribute to low mood or if it continues to get worse, depression. This is made worse by job insecurity and economic and financial difficulties. Discussing finances with your employer, bank or Citizens Advice will help. If you feel you have low mood do things that you enjoy, watch a comedy on the television, or talk to family and friends.
If your mood is so low that you stop doing your usual daily activities for more than a couple of weeks, you should telephone and speak to your doctor or a counsellor.
Self-help activities include gentle exercise, relaxation, writing down your feelings in a journal and Mindfulness or Self-Hypnosis. Alternately you could look for an online counselling service.
Anxiety during this pandemic can be triggered through social isolation. If you have medical conditions, are elderly and are confined to your home, you may be lacking in human contact. This may trigger fears of becoming ill, not coping or even dying. We all must adhere to the recommendations from the Government.
The solution is to regularly telephone friends and family, or go online. In some areas, there are also helplines where you can chat with a volunteer, for example, Silverline for older people. You could also start a new hobby or pastime.
As travelling is restricted, some people will suffer from separation anxiety, especially if their friends or loved ones are abroad or away from home. This might feel particularly bad as people feel out of control and can do nothing but wait until travelling restrictions are lifted.
If you are missing someone, you could talk to friends, family or a counsellor. Distracting yourself by keeping busy may also help. If you are a ‘crafty’ person, you could make something nice for your loved one for when you do meet up. Send them emails and letters and think positively as the restrictions will be lifted.
Anxiety is also triggered through lack of information, information overload and false information. Getting involved in hours of social media won’t help as negative stories will reinforce your anxiety. It’s about balance as you need the correct information, but you don’t need information from unreliable sources.
The solution is to restrict your time looking at social media. Check reliable sources of information such as the World Health Organisation website and listen to the local and national news.
Think positively and plan ahead
The best way to reduce the anxiety related to the Coronavirus is to make yourself think positively. This could be by writing down 3 things a day that you are grateful for. You could also take the opportunity to learn more from an online course or reading. Connect with other positive people.
You should also plan your career and personal life ahead.
- What will you do when the restrictions are lifted?
- What needs to change in your life?
- What will you stop?
- What will you achieve?
- Do you need help?
Dream of a positive and fulfilling life because things will get better. Be kind to yourself. What you believe; you can achieve.
With best wishes