Nobody saw it coming. The coronavirus has taken the world by surprise and it seems as though our lives have changed overnight. Our routines have changed, our ability to interact with each other has changed and every day the news is changing and there is new information that we all have to learn and understand. It’s not surprising that with so much change happening so quickly, that this is a cause of stress or anxiety to many of us. That’s why our psychologist is here to help us understand what we can do to make it easier to cope with life during COVID-19.
Here are some wise words from our Principal Senior Clinical Neuropsychologist Dr Brian Waldron: “We can’t control everything in our lives and the current Coronavirus pandemic is a major example. The fact is, that there is and will be, for some time to come, an additional “anxiety pandemic” for all of us. But there are things we can do help manage and contain the emotional impact.”
Tips to reduce anxiety:
- Limit your news intake to once or twice a day. Avoid watching 24-hour news all day
- Practice stress reduction techniques such as mindfulness or breathing exercises
- Choose a ‘worry time’ in your day for 20 minutes. Use this time to write down your worries and what actions you can take. This helps to contain worry.
- Talk to your family and friends and share your thoughts and feelings
- Take practical actions to reduce your stress like writing your shopping list or ordering your prescription
- Keep well physically – eat a healthy diet and get out for a brisk walk for at least 30 mins a day while respecting social distancing
- Keep your daily routine as normal as possible – get up at the same time each day and keep your mealtimes.
- Avoid excessive amounts of caffeine or alcohol which can disrupt your sleep
Myths about worry:
Dr Waldron says: “People have both positive and negative beliefs about worry. On the negative side, you might believe that you have no control over worry, that worrying is dangerous, and that you could ‘lose it’, go mad or crack up. The good news is that none of these beliefs are true. Worrying isn’t dangerous and you won’t go mad from worrying. People also hold more subtle positive beliefs about worrying such as that it helps with problem solving, reduces stress, promotes coping and helps them be prepared. The fact is that constant worrying about a problem like the Coronavirus, doesn’t help with the problem.”
Create worry time
It’s a good idea to create a ‘worry time’ in your day. What is it?
- max 30 or 40 minutes at a set time each day
- a time to note down your thoughts, fears or any practical actions you plan to take
- once the time is up, put down your pen and do something else
Benefits of having a ‘worry time’
- helps to contain worry and prevent you constantly thinking about a problem all day long
- it allows you to postpone your worry until your ‘worry time’ and get on with your life the rest of the time
- it gives you focus to your worry – time to think about it, acknowledge the worry and think of actions to take
- Ask yourself is the problem solvable? Or is it out of your control?
- By doing it every day, this is taking action in itself and you will feel much better