What a strange time to live through. We are all feeling it. These times of uncertainty, panic and paranoia can feel overwhelming – especially for us who are already suffering with anxiety. We are here to help you as best we can – we are not alone in this.
Here are some of our top tips on dealing with anxiety during the pandemic:
1. Limit your news intake
It is so tempting to constantly refresh our news-feeds for new (and often unreliable) information. This is normal, because our bodies and brains are hardwired to crave awareness of threats. This has been the case ever since caveman times when we needed to know patterns of predators to avoid being eaten by a big cat.
But right now, this information is not helping us, it’s sending us into our primitive fight or flight mode – which are, really, all symptoms of anxiety.
So, protect yourself from experiencing this by being really strict with your news intake. Limit yourself to once or twice a day – we suggest mid-morning (not straight away when you wake up) and early evening (around the time of the government’s daily update). Delete any news apps or notifications from your phone to remove the temptation to check during the day.
Remember – if there is information you NEED, you will hear about it. Stick to the facts – only visit Gov.uk or NHS website for your updates. Right now, any other news is non-essential.
2. Be strict with how others are affecting you
Do you have a WhatsApp group who are sending news articles about the ‘horrors’ of the pandemic? This isn’t helping anyone, is it?
Be honest with these friends, family or colleagues. Tell them your anxiety is causing you great discomfort and it would be great if you could have a break from the news stories for a few days. They are sure to understand.
3. Stay in the present
Too often, our anxiety flares when we worry about the future, play catastrophic ‘what-ifs’or ruminate on the past.
Give meditation a go to help your brain practice staying in the present. It also helps to take deep breaths and state facts out loud – for example: right now, you are safe. Your loved ones are safe. You have everything you need. There is nothing you can do apart from stay at home and stay connected to others. Try not to panic about your supply of toilet roll or if your summer holiday will be cancelled. Worrying will do nothing but steal your joy.
4. Have a daily routine
We are all out of routine right now, and as much as we may curse our 45 minute commute to work, it is a comfort to know what we are doing at what time each day. It’s like a safety blanket for humans, and is another great way to stay focused on the present.
Draw or write up a daily schedule. Include time you will work, have lunch, workout and relax. Stick to it as best you can, and you will find this can be incredibly soothing for your anxious moments.
5. Stay connected and be open
Make sure you are being honest with your feelings – to yourself and to others. There is no shame in being anxious during this time. It is unknown and uncertain, and your feelings are totally valid. If you open up to trusted loved ones, they might be able to help settle your inner turmoil.
You can also text HECTOR to 85258 to speak to a trained volunteer who can help to get you through this moment.
6. Focus on things inside of your control
There are a lot of things in our world right now that we can do nothing about. And that can be scary. It’s much healthier to focus on the elements of your life that are totally in your control – which is a lot. You can control how you spend your time, the food you eat, how much exercise you are getting and much more…
Take a look at our other blog post – caring for your mental health during self isolation – for more great tips on taking control of this period.
You are doing great
This is a very strange time for us all, and to those who are also battling with mental health issues such as anxiety – you are truly remarkable by making it through each day. You might not feel it, but you are so brave and so strong. And you can do this.
Take each day as it comes. Remember that each day we go through is another day closer to normality. Use this time to reflect and slow down, and don’t ever feel like you are alone.
We are in this together.