If you’re anything like me, you will be feeling anxious at this time. I am the kind of person that loves having a set structure to my life, with plans set in place and goals to aim towards. Due to the corona virus outbreak, pretty much all of these things have now been forced out of my control, which is really frustrating. The government and the media have been using words and sentences like these:
‘this is the biggest threat this country has faced for decades’
‘thousands more people will die’
‘our NHS will not be able to cope’.
For many, these words are emotive, harsh and alarming, but some may say, necessary. It is clearly important that we all understand the severity of this virus and help to stop the spread. However, hearing these scary, daunting words is likely to cause panic and anxiety in the general public. I have also heard many people say things like this:
‘its just staying inside, get over it’
‘you only have to wear your pyjamas, not hold a gun and fight for your country’.
Many state that ‘staying inside’ is a very simple and easy instruction, but for countless people across the country, this is not the case. Abusive relationships, family tensions and deteriorating mental health conditions, are just a few reasons why staying at home can be far from easy. It is important that struggles and anxious feelings are normalised and accepted at this time, so we can all come together and support one another. Having said that, there are many things we can do to try to reduce how anxious we are feeling at this time, and here are a few examples.
- Speak to your friends and family
Even though we may not be able to see our friends and extended family at this time, the amazing technology we have at our fingertips, means that we can. Apps like houseparty, zoom and facetime allow you to speak to multiple friends at one time, and some even allow you to play games like charades while doing so. It is possible to still feel close to your loved ones even when you are physically apart, and it is really important that we do more of this each day.
- Connect to the outside
Open a window- even if you don’t have a garden yourself, people are so bored everyone is mowing their lawn, so enjoy those freshly cut grass smells! Make the most of your hour of exercise, it doesn’t have to be a painful, sweaty run, because the media tell you ‘you should be using this time to become a better you’. Go for a walk, smile at strangers and take a deep breath of fresh air.
- Distract yourself
It is really important that we learn how to distract ourselves from our anxious thoughts. I have heard anxious thoughts being described as ‘clouds that come and go’ and our mind and conscious being is the sky. Allow the clouds (anxiety) to pass. You are not the cloud, you are the sky. The sun may not come out for a few days, and that is ok too, but just remind yourself that your anxiety does not define you. If the thoughts become overwhelming, acknowledge the feeling and start a positive-focussed activity such as watching your favourite show, listening to some music or painting.
- Don’t over-expose yourself to the media
I have found that there is a real trade-off with media exposure at this time. On one hand, it is imperative that you watch the government news appearances to understand the current situation and the new restrictions that you must follow. On the other hand, the news is on, pretty much all of the time, and we do not need to watch it all of the time. As long as you understand and have access to the most recent guidelines and information, you do not need to engage any more with the news that may cause you additional anxiety. It is also a really good idea to use this time to unfollow anyone on social media who does not add anything positive to your feed/ mind.
- Change your mindset
Many people have found it really difficult to imagine weeks and weeks of being ‘stuck’ inside. This feeling of being stuck is a restrictive and claustrophobic feeling. If we change our mindsets to see the weeks staying at home keeping us ‘safe’, there is a much more reassuring and comforting tone. We may not be able to control this, but it is important that we understand that staying inside is what is keeping us safe, and that is a really positive thing. It is also really important to practise gratitude. These are tough times, but many of us still have so much to be grateful for. Some may find it useful to write down a list of 5 things each morning that you are grateful for, to start the day in a positive way.
We should work on our anxiety, just as we work on our physical health and fitness. If you like the sound of these 5 points, think of them as your mental health ‘5-a-day’. Just remember, this is temporary, and you can only control what you can control. WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS!
Written by Jodie Velarde Phillips