While a lot of people are worried about COVID-19, this worry can become overwhelming for some people. It’s reasonable to be concerned and nervous for the future. But, if it’s beginning to become a burden and having negative impacts on your day to day life, then it’s important to take care of yourself and try to find ways to manage it.
Here are some ways you can ease the stress and manage your wellbeing during the pandemic.
Try to remember that health professionals all over the world are working their hardest right now, figuring out how to combat the virus. You may not see a lot of the progress being made, but it is there. Often anxiety increases when we don’t feel that we have control over what’s happening. Because of this, try staying up to date with the facts, following advice and planning for the possibility that you and/or your family will need to be isolated. This can help you get some of that control back.
Balancing news and media
There are a lot of media sources for information on the virus, but they aren’t always trustworthy. Limit how many alarming stories you read that can cause anxiety. Stay informed through trusted sources such as the government. The more media that you spend time on, the more likely you are to come across story after story that isn’t positive. This will make it harder it’ll be to distract yourself. It’s good to stay updated with the news however you should make sure you aren’t spending too much time and energy focusing on it.
Keeping a routine going is a great way to keep some normality in your life. If you can keep yourself busy then your brain will not have enough time to only focus on the virus. Then you will be able to continue getting things done. Also, stay in contact with the people you’d normally be in contact with.
On the other hand, you shouldn’t spend all of your time working just because it’s easier and more accessible at home. Make sure to get outside where you can and relax as much as you normally would. Working from your bedroom can disturb sleep and make it harder to switch off from work. Instead, try and work from other areas of your house.
Self-Care and coping skills
Take care of your body and mind through things such as exercise, eating well and getting enough sleep. You can read our blog on self-care for ways to practice self-care and the benefits it can have. Try not to drink more alcohol than usual as this can easily have a negative impact on your mental health.
Mindfulness is good to practice for retraining your brain to focus on your surroundings rather than your thoughts. It teaches you ways to respond to stress with awareness of what your emotions are and what is truly causing it. This helps to reduce how much you instinctively react with stress and panic over situations. Stress and anxiety normally makes it much harder for us to focus on the bigger picture.
When things start to feel overwhelming you can also take a break and try to work on slow, deep breathing. Find a quiet place, close your eyes and pay attention to breathing in and out. Take your time and tune into your body to calm yourself down.
Helping Children with COVID-19 Anxiety
Children aren’t equipped with the same knowledge that we have or the same understanding of what’s going on. If they are exposed to media that is alarming, it can cause more worry than necessary and make it more difficult for them to have a balanced perspective.
If you notice that your child is extremely anxious about the virus, explain to them that health professionals, the government and more are doing their absolute best to look after us. Try to limit the amount of media they hear and view,. Help them to understand restrictions such as isolation and reduced numbers at gatherings are a precaution more than anything. If we continue to practice healthy hygiene habits and follow the rules then things will be okay. Lots of hugs are helpful too! Remember, kids pick up on our stress a lot of the time. By managing your own anxiety, you can help reduce the amount of anxiety your child may have, because by seeing you worry, they assume they should be worried too.
With many children returning back to school, some may have increased anxiety over catching the virus. Reinforce how important washing their hands is to your children as they start attending school again, and how they should limit contact with other children.
There is nothing wrong with feeling like you cannot cope. If you still feel overwhelmed, you don’t need to hesitate when it comes to speaking to your GP – they can help you figure out the next best steps to take and want to help you in the best way possible. You can also contact Lifeline www.lifeline.org.au 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue www.beyondblue.org.au 1300 22 4636.