1.Limit your sources of informationRumours and speculation can fuel anxiety. Select a couple of sources that you trust and only stick to what they report. This way you will not be overwhelmed by all the information that is out there and to also avoid watching or reading fake news. Limit the amount of times you check for an update. Things change so quickly it is easy to panic with all the information that we receive. One minute the news will say one thing and then shortly after they will say something different. This is why we should not hang on every update as it is not helping our mental well-being. Know when to stop watching or reading the updates. It is difficult to walk away from what is going on and it is in our nature to want to know everything that is going on. But knowing when to take a step back from everything is so important so we do not panic any more than we already are. It is very tempting to keep reading but it will not do anything to help your mental health, if anything it will affect it negatively.
2. List your fearsIt may help to take a seat and make a list of what is really worrying you. A pandemic is very abstract – you need to list down exactly what about you are scared of. Is it the fear of death? Being scared of death is a core existential fear. You have to think of what you are scared of and how realistic it is. Take a moment to consider your personal risk and how likely it is that you will actually come in contact with the virus based on your lifestyle. Is your greatest fear that someone you care about gets the virus? It is human nature to overestimate the likelihood of something bad happening, and because of this we usually underestimate our capability to deal with it. Are you worried that if you are in quarantine that you will be unable to work? How you will access basic necessities, such as your groceries? Who will look after your children? We are capable of dealing with the hard times – do not underestimate yourself. When we are put to the test that is when we see how strong we actually are and how creative we can become for our survival
3. Think of othersWhen we are busy doing something, we are not worried about what is going on as our mind is occupied. What better way to pre-occupy your thoughts by helping others. How are the people around you reacting to all of this? Does someone close to you need support? Do they need help with obtaining basic necessities? Depending on what kind of work people do, some are able to continue working from home, but what about those who work in restaurants or entertainment industries where they cannot work from home and may have no income coming in at the moment? We need to find ways on supporting others. How can we help those with less options?
4. Seek supportIt is natural for us to want to talk about what is going on. When we find out something new we want to call someone to talk about it. It is good to talk to others but try to not create an echo chamber. If you are feeling overwhelmed or scared, try not to talk to someone who has a similar fear as you as all you will do is make them panic more than they already are. Talk to someone who is dealing with this differently and who is able to help with your anxiety and can provide some advice on what you have just found out.
5. Stay connected with othersAt moments we want to isolate ourselves because of what the media says, but do try to stay connected with others. At times of stress we are able to function better in company and with support. Keep in touch with your family and friends or contact a helpline for emotional support. Try and reassure people you know who may be worried and make sure that you check in with people who you know are living alone.
6. Stick to your daily routineIt is a good idea to stick to your daily routine as much as you can. Disrupting your daily routine drastically can impact your mental health negatively.
7. Look after yourselfIt is easy to neglect our basic needs while worrying about what is going on around us. Make sure that you are getting enough sleep, keeping up with proper nutrition, get fresh air as much as possible and engage in regular physical activity. Practicing yoga or other forms of self-care can also help centre you and keep your mind from wandering into the dark and the unknown.
8. Don’t be hard on yourselfYou shouldn’t feel guilty for worrying about what you read in the media. You are allowed to worry. We should acknowledge our fears. The important thing is that we work towards understanding our fears so they do not keep us from living life.
9. Seek Professional helpIf you feel that you need the seek professional help in order to deal with what is going on then you should do it. Search for help locally or via the telephone. There are many options available. If you are in the UK you may contact the below helplines. Please also feel free to contact me if you would like mental health support during this time:
firstname.lastname@example.orgYou can also join my facebook group for more updates: https://www.facebook.com/groups/520744592157392/ In an emergency:
- Call 999
- Call NHS 111 (for when you need help but are not in immediate danger)
- Contact your GP and ask for an emergency appointment
- Contact the Samaritans (details below)
- Use the ‘Shout’ crisis text line – text SHOUT to 85258
- 116 123 (free to call from within the UK and Ireland), 24 hours a day
- Email: email@example.com