Due to the social distancing rules I am unable to offer face-to-face counselling at the moment. However I can offer telephone support and counselling as well as online therapy via Zoom, WhatsApp or Skype. For further information please email katie@findinghope counselling or ring 02895 810448
Anxiety and Covid 19 Coronavirus is dominating headlines around the world. While the media focus is on the impact on people’s physical health and what’s being done to prevent the spread of the disease; anxiety about the virus can also have an impact on people’s mental health and wellbeing. But with blanket news coverage – including deaths and quarantine in other countries and now having to self-isolate here for weeks, there is understandably a lot of anxiety about the virus. The media, the television news and social media brings this right into our living rooms and the way that it’s being portrayed is connecting with the fear centre in our brain and linking into the threat of death.
SOME HELPFUL TIPS
Keep in contact with people in other ways
Human contact and connection is really important. We can keep in contact with people by Facetime, WhatsApp, Skype, Zoom etc and those conversations and interactions can really help at this time.
Think about access to media and social media
You may want to think about where you are getting your information from. Are the reports sensationalising the situation and scaremongering? Or do you feel they are reporting responsibly and with balance? Some people can be quite paralysed by this anxiety and may want to completely stop interacting with the news. For others this can be quite difficult because they want to know what’s going on; not knowing makes it worse. It is good to acknowledge how you feel and talking it through can sometimes help. We have a telephone support line being set up to help this and you can get lots of information and advice online.
It is not always easy but if you can reframe your thoughts into being positive, that can often help; if it’s possible try to think of this time as an opportunity to get something done. It might to read a book, drawing, painting, catching up on something. Try when possible to get into a positive mind frame. Remember this is for a set time period and it will pass.
Do something you can control
It can help to express this anxiety in a way that you can control. One way is to allow yourself to worry, feel the feelings and then put that away. That could be by writing how you feel in a journal or on a piece of paper. Know that you have just taken it seriously by writing it and have listened to your own anxiety. This is about self-care and being kind to yourself so try not to judge what you have written nor look at it but close the book or paper.
Let it go
Once you’ve written it down, let it go. You can put the book out of the way in a locked or closed draw, burn the paper, tear it up, put it in a box. We are not pretending that the feelings are not there, but we are putting them away for now.
Remember anxiety and fear is catching but so too is calm. If we can find and nurture moments of calm within ourselves, we can find a way through this situation and help those around us too.
Bring it back to the present
With anxiety, it’s often like you’re 10 steps ahead, so bring things back to the present. Anxiety feeds off the thoughts we have, and these often get stuck in ‘what if’ or ‘if only’. Our brains also go quickly to catastrophising when we are anxious… that means it thinks of all the worst-case scenarios.
Think about your thought process
Bring your thoughts back to what you know and things that are in front of you and try to keep it simple. There are several ways to help with this and these often involve breathing techniques, distraction, finding things in the here and now to focus on. [See mindfulness ideas.]
Reassure yourself to help calm yourself. We call it self-soothing. Have positive and simple words and statements to tell yourself. “I am a good person”, “it is normal to feel worried, but I am ok”, “I am doing my best”, “this too shall pass”. For some people these can be helpful. For others it might be to take some time out in a hot bath, watch a favourite movie, play with a pet, play a game with the children. We all have different things that work.
Make sure you are looking after yourself, doing what you can to help get a good night’s sleep, eating well and doing exercise. These are obviously far more challenging in these ‘lock down’ times but if we manage our health like this, it can help make us more robust against anxiety.” If you’re stuck by yourself, even if you’re confined to one room of your house, you may still be able to do some meditation, yoga or even some basic physical activity while watching an exercise video.
It is important for people who have long-term health conditions to make sure you are doing the usual self-management of your condition. Anxiety and the release of stress hormones can exacerbate physical symptoms. Anxiety links our brain and body so try and make sure you are doing what you can to look after your physical health
Breathing techniques and mindfulness
Practising mindfulness or using breathing techniques to help you relax and can be helpful in managing anxiety. They are good tools for dealing with nervous feelings.