This week has seen a big change in how we all live our lives for foreseeable future. Use these simple tips to get through these times
When you read the news right now, it just seems to be bad news. It’s ok to be concerned about the news, especially if you have elderly or ill relatives or friends. However, for many people it can make existing mental health problems worse.
When the World Health Organization released advice on protecting your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak, it was welcomed by most people.
Listen to the advice from Anxiety UK
People with anxiety can fear the feeling of being out of control and unable to tolerate. So it's understandable that many individuals with pre-existing anxiety are facing challenges at the moment.
Anxiety is primarily rooted in worrying about the unknown and waiting for something to happen – the coronavirus story feeds right into these fears on a massive scale. No one knows what will happen in the future, no matter you might read on Social Media.
So how can we protect our mental health?
Limit how much news you read and be careful about which news sources you read. The news can be anxiety inducing at the best of times so right now it’s a good time to think about how much news you consume and how that makes you feel. Try to avoid the news where you can.
The News can create anxiety and you will thank yourself for it.
Having long periods away from news websites and social media can help you to manage your anxiety. Try to mute subjects that are triggering your anxiety. Maybe think about unfollowing some people or hiding their updates on Facebook. We are all dealing with Coronavirus in different ways, there is no wrong or right way to deal with the events happening now but let’s just appreciate that we all have different views. Everyone likes to think they are an expert on Coronavirus but sadly most of us are not.
If you have to check the new, then try to check the news once or twice a day, not constantly as this will just add to any anxiety you are feeling
Also, and this is key, stay informed but stick to trusted sources of information, for example Government or NHS websites. Seek information from credible news sources and plan using this information.
Mute WhatsApp groups and hide Facebook posts and feeds if you find them too overwhelming
Wash your hands but not excessively.
OCD Action has seen an increase in support requests from people whose fears have become focused on the coronavirus pandemic. For people with OCD and some types of anxiety, being constantly told to wash your hands can be especially difficult to hear and a huge trigger for some people. Part of the treatment for OCD is try to reduce handwashing to a ‘normal’ level but now OCD sufferers are being told to increase hand washing, which can lead to some confusion. Soap and hand sanitiser have close links with addictive behaviour for OCD Sufferers.
Charity OCD Action says the issue to look out for is the function. For example, is the washing being carried out for the recommended amount of time or is it being done ritualistically in a specific order to feel "just right"?
Stay connected with people. Increasing numbers will join those already in self-isolation so now might be a good time to make sure you have the right phone numbers and email addresses of the people you care about. If you self isolate, try to strike a balance between having a routine and making sure each day has some variety.
Avoid Burnout. It’s really important to have some down time in the midst of all of this. Try to keep up an exercise routine (good for your immune system), stay hydrated and keep eating well.
Finally AnxietyUK suggests practising the "Apple" technique to deal with anxiety and worries.
Acknowledge: Notice and acknowledge the uncertainty as it comes to mind.
Pause: Don't react as you normally do. Don't react at all. Pause and breathe.
Pull back: Tell yourself this is just the worry talking, and this apparent need for certainty is not helpful and not necessary. It is only a thought or feeling. Don't believe everything you think. Thoughts are not statements or facts.
Let go: Let go of the thought or feeling. It will pass. You don't have to respond to them. You might imagine them floating away in a bubble or cloud.
Explore: Explore the present moment, because right now, in this moment, all is well. Notice your breathing and the sensations of your breathing. Notice the ground beneath you. Look around and notice what you see, what you hear, what you can touch, what you can smell. Right now. Then shift your focus of attention to something else - on what you need to do, on what you were doing before you noticed the worry, or do something else - mindfully with your full attention.
We hope this helps and please take professional advice if you feel unwell.