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Coping with Coronovirus anxiety
As a therapist, I am seeing a substantial rise in anxiety due to the Coronovirus. Feeling stressed and anxiety in response to any threat is a natural human reaction, as a strategy to keep ourselves safe and away from harm. Sustained anxiety however can diminish the more effective responses to such a crisis, getting in the way of rational thinking. People who already have or are susceptible to anxiety and similar disorders are especially likely to suffer more during this time. However, this may be also creating anxiety for those who have never been susceptible to it before. Here are some tips on how to manage Coronovirus anxiety:
What creates anxiety is a sense of uncertainty about what is to come, it is our mind projecting forward and trying to figure everything out so that we can feel in control, safe and secure. When we don’t have the sense of certainty that we are used to, it creates feelings of insecurity, helplessness and worry. Because there is uncertainty in this area of our lives, we need to embrace the activities in our lives that we know do create a sense of certainty. We need the balance of these certainty-seeking behaviours. These can be small daily activities that are in your normal routine. Keeping up a routine is also important as it keeps us feeling as secure and in control as possible. Many people who are predisposed to anxiety need a sense of structure and routine in their day to feel settled, safe and comfortable. Get up at the same time each day, and get ready for the day as if things are just as normal. Allocate specific times to do different activities to create that sense certainty of what is to come in your day.
Limit how much media you watch. The more we watch the more it makes us susceptible to worry and feeling anxious. We find out what we need to but continually watching more and allowing ourselves to get caught up in it is not healthy and gives us more things to stress about that actually may not become a reality for us. It decreases our sense of feeling in control. When feelings of stress or anxiety arise, acknowledge it and describe the feelings to yourself and others but without delving too much into the negativity or the detail of what is happening world-wide. Resist the urge to escape or rid your anxiety and fears by obsessively reading news updates. Also remember that people can often exaggerate the extent of threats, especially when it is something that we have not come across before.
Stay on purpose. Similar to keeping your daily routine, ensure that you are continually staying connected to your own sources of meaning. Continue to do what you are passionate about and you will sustain a sense of fulfillment. It is important that we keep achieving what is important to us as this will create that sense fulfillment.
If your normal daily routine has been or is going to disrupted, create a new one but come up with ideas of how to also have variety in your day. We need variety to stay energized and stimulated. If you are going to be stuck at home, make sure you have a balance of several activities to do, instead of just one or even none. Make a list now of the things you can do, so that if or when you may feel at a loss of what to do, it’ll be easier for you to decide what to divert your attention to. Prepare for little decisions like this, as often when we are anxious our decision-making capacity can lessen. Make sure exercise of some sort is on that list, the more oxygen you get to your brain the better you will feel.
Focus on what is still going well. We have been bombarded with this in the media and it is easy to get stuck in a negative thinking pattern about it. What we need to do is continually remind ourselves of what is going well still. The way we feel is going to be dictated by what we choose to keep focusing on. Choose the good, find other things to talk about.
The less stressed you are, the stronger your immune system will stay. Breathe in the word “relax” when you are feeling stressed or anxious, it reminds your mind and hence your nervous system of what you do want to feel, instead of creating more of what you don’t want to feel when repeating words like “worried”, “anxious”, and so on. Also, avoid asking yourself and others negative “what if” questions as this only accentuates anxiety and uncertainty in the mind.
Reach out for help. There are many great people out there who can help with your stress and anxiety. Embrace the help. Keep close and connected to friends and family, as that bond we have with them will keep us feeling safe and secure. Look out for others and check-in on people, this is much more appreciated than we often realise.
If you need specific tools and techniques that are more specific to you and your situation, we can do a skype session that takes you through an exercise that will help ease off the unwanted feelings experienced in your nervous system, to help you stay as relaxed and happy as possible during this time. Contact [email protected]
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