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How to stop Coronavirus (Covid 19) from affecting your mental health

by | Mar 15, 2020 | Covid-19, Mental Health

We are currently being bombarded with so much information about Coronavirus and how it impacts our health, but how is all this information affecting our mental health?

Everything that is going on in the world at the moment is causing panic and increasing anxiety. People who have pre-existing mental health problems are the most vulnerable at the moment. The constant information that the media is giving us can affect our mental health negatively. We need to draw the line between being cautious and overreaction.

People are feeling overwhelmed, scared and helpless because of this situation. There are people who are so worried they may have trouble sleeping or concentrating on their day to day tasks. This has also caused fear in being in contact with others and this will cause people to isolate themselves and this is not helpful for your mental health to be locked up and avoiding people. Trains and buses are now not as busy as they used to be during peak times.

The World Health Organization has acknowledged that this is causing stress and have advised people to avoid watching the news that causes feelings of anxiety and stress.

Stephen Buckley, of the mental health charity Mind, said: “We know that the coronavirus and its impact are causing stress and worry for many people. If you already have a mental health problem, it’s possible that the worries of coronavirus may be affecting how you’re coping.”

Self-isolating ourselves is most likely going to have a negative impact on our mental health. Being separated from loved ones and losing our freedom can create dramatic effects. People with mental health problems may have more chances of suicide because of them being self-isolated and having the feeling of being alone.

People who have OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – will see their OCD to be intensified, with washing their hands and avoiding people even more than they already do. They will have trouble dealing with everything that is being portrayed in the media as it will only make their OCD worse.

The stress and anxiety around what is going on has increased the panic attacks people are having. One of the things that lead to panic attacks is excessive worrying.

We are bombarded with so much information we do not know what we are doing or where to start from. Here are some tips, besides washing your hands and social distancing, but for your mental health.

 

1.Limit your sources of information

Rumours 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 fears

It 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 others

When 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 support

It 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 others

At 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 routine

It 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 yourself

It 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 yourself

You 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 help

If 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:

 

help@charloua.com

You can also join my facebook group for more updates: https://www.facebook.com/groups/520744592157392/

In an emergency:

 

  • Call 999

If you’re in crisis and need to speak to someone:

 

  • 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

Samaritans – Available 24 hours a day to provide confidential emotional support for people who are experiencing feelings of distress, despair or suicidal thoughts.

 

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