It’s no doubt that everything surrounding COVID19 is anxiety inducing. With everything that is happening with the Coronavirus pandemic, you may be feeling more stressed, more worried and more anxious than usual. These are all valid responses to the current situation and all the perceived threats we are seeing in the media and online everyday. It’s important for me to manage my anxiety with COVID19 so it doesn’t overwhelm me.
Anxiety is our bodies natural reaction to stress and the fight or flight response, which kicks into affect when we perceive a threat and gets our bodies ready to either fight, or flight and get the fuck out of there. Our bodies are constantly looking out for these threats and it’s how our ancestors have been able to survive. Once the mind sees a threat fight or flight kicks in and then when it is no longer a threat, our bodies go back to normal.
Because our perceived threat is something we cant see, therefore we cant run away from and we have no known timeline of when it will be over, our fight or flight response is unable to work in its intended way which can lead to our bodies remaining in fight or flight mode which can lead to a constant feeling of anxiety. There are however many ways we can help our minds and our bodies manage this anxiety.
How to manage COVID19 anxiety
1. Be in control where you can
If cleaning your house, stocking up on things, or using hand sanitiser 20 times a day helps then you should do it, as it’s the not doing anything that can heighten this fight or flight response. So long as you aren’t harming anyone, cope in the best way you know how.
I keep going to my local shop everyday, not to buy anything every time but just to go and know that there is still food and it helps me feel like everything is ok. Sometimes I’ll just go in, walk around and then leave. I’m still practicing social distancing and this is the only time I leave the house by the way.
2. Limit your time watching the news
It’s hard because you want to stay informed but then the temptation is there to watch all day everyday. It will all still be there if you don’t watch it for a few hours and not letting yourself switch off will only make the anxiety worse. I’ve limited myself to watching/reading about it for an hour a day and then the rest of the time I try to keep busy with other things. Otherwise I find myself reading it before bed and then struggling to sleep because when your body is in fight or flight it doesn’t want to sleep. It wants you to stay vigilant for perceived threats.
3. Limit talking about it
It’s tempting to keep talking about Coronavirus with family, friends and colleagues but for the same reason tuning into the news all day isn’t health neither is it being your only topic of conversation. By all means, talk about your feelings and anxieties with people you trust when you need to but make time for other conversation too.
Also be mindful that maybe the other person may be struggling and it may not be helping them to constantly be talking about. I’ve seen a couple of things online where people are checking in with someone before they unload their thoughts and feelings about everything going on. I think this is a great approach to take. You may be in the right space to talk about it but check they are in the right mindset too.
Equally if someone starts to talk to you about anything you aren’t in the right mind frame to handle, you are allowed to politely say, I hear you and I want to be here for you but right now I’m not in the right place to hear this information but I’m happy to talk about something else or talk when I’m in a better place.
4. Communicate with those who make us feel safe
If you are social distancing, this is obviously much harder to do but make sure you are still connecting with the people you love daily even it’s just over face time or Whatsapp. I’ve seen ideas such as booking in conference calls with friends or family or all watching a show/film together at the same time.
5. Be kind to yourself and others
There is no right way or wrong way to handle this all. We are all just human trying to muddle through a situation most of us have never had to be in before and we are doing the best we can with the tools we can. Be kind to yourself and others and stay safe.
A lot of this advice and information came from a really helpful video I found on Youtube by licensed therapist, Kati Morton which I would highly recommend for more in-depth and professional advice.