Anxiety disorders can soar when people are confronted with a threat that they do not understand and feel that they have no control over. There is no point in pretending that the coronavirus isn’t scary, because it is. We’re all reading the papers and watching the news, and we know that this is a big deal. So how can we protect our mental health at this difficult time?
People typically feel at their worst when they have no control over a situation. The coronavirus epidemic seems so big that thinking about it can be completely overwhelming. The key to better mental health lies in regaining a sense of control.
No single person, and no single culture, can control the spread of a disease. However, we can all gain control over our own lives, and how we react to things. During a crisis, this can result in the boundaries of our world receding considerably – but in the short term, that’s OK. It is all about learning to accept the things that we cannot change, while doing what we can to make positive change in other areas.
Here are some tips for better emotional health in the current climate:
- Stay informed, but limit your interactions with social media. It is important to know what is going on, and the latest recommendations for staying healthy, but you do not need hourly updates. There is nothing to be gained from endlessly refreshing your Facebook and Twitter feeds. Excessive exposure to the news will lead to your anxiety soaring—and exposure to others’ panicky and often wildly inaccurate takes on the situation is even worse.
- Take positive steps to help yourself and those around you. If an elderly person in your area wants to self-isolate, for example, see if you can help by shopping for them occasionally, or dropping over a ready-made meal now and again. Helping others benefits both the helper and the one who helps.
- Take care of your physical health. It can be tempting to comfort-eat and consume excessive quantities of alcohol when we are stressed, but this is not a good approach for either our mental or our physical health. Rather, we need to watch our calorie intake and treat ourselves to delicious, healthy snacks. Being physically well helps us to maintain good emotional health too.
- Stay in touch. Even if you cannot see your friends and loved ones—because of the coronavirus or for other reasons—the wonders of technology can help us all to maintain contact and stay in touch for the sake of friendship, conversation, and mutual comfort.
- Remember to plan for the future. A lot of plans might need to be on hold for now, but the current crisis will end; there’s no reason to adopt a doomsday approach to life. Even if you can’t yet choose the date for your next holiday, you can still get the guidebook and dream about it!
WHO CAN I SPEAK TO FURTHER ABOUT THE ISSUES IN THIS ARTICLE?
For help with the issues discussed in this article speak to one of our therapists here at Private Therapy Clinic for a free initial chat or to make an appointment.
We’re also running group therapy for COVID-19 for those worried about the psychological effects of the virus, self-isolation and quarantine.