The constant information that we are all receiving regarding COVID-19 (also known as coronavirus) is enough to worry any of us but can specifically cause challenges for those with live with anxiety on a day to day basis/have a pre-existing anxiety condition.
With self-isolation being so heavily suggested for anyone who that is exhibiting any signs of having the virus, it’s extra important to take care of yourself if you have ongoing experience of living with anxiety as maintaining good mental wellbeing is just as crucial as maintaining good physical wellbeing.
For those that have anxiety disorders such as claustrophobia, agoraphobia and panic disorder, some of the potential management strategies that are being discussed in relation to COVID-19 might give rise to specific challenges and thoughts of ‘feeling trapped’.
Furthermore, those with conditions such as health anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) might also find the current heightened focus on contamination and infection particularly distressing and may as a result be experiencing an increase in negative, automatic thoughts.
Fearing being ‘out of control’ and ‘being unable to tolerate uncertainty’ are actually common characteristics of many anxiety disorders and therefore it stands to reason why so many individuals with pre-existing anxiety may now be seemingly experiencing an exacerbation of their anxiety as a result of COVID-19.
Indeed over the past week or so, here at Anxiety UK our friendly helpline team have been supporting individuals struggling with just this issue and can offer an understanding and empathic ear to anyone who needs that additional bit of support (03444 775 774). If you don’t’ want to talk over the phone you can also reach out via our live chat support service (anxietyuk.org.uk), via text (07537 416905) or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Additionally, throughout the coming weeks, Anxiety UK will be hosting a range of support webinars for the general public on issues such as ‘how to be kind & compassionate to yourself’, ‘dealing with COVID-19 negative thoughts when you already have anxiety’ to name but a few and which are aimed at giving that extra bit of help to those that are struggling with anxiety during this difficult time.
And for those individuals who need further support, Anxiety UK’s large team of Approved Therapists are available to offer 1:1 support through therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and counselling https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/our-services/book-your-therapy-here .
Our successful partnership with Headspace also means that all Anxiety UK members can get a year’s free subscription to this fabulous mindfulness app – just the tonic for an anxious mind https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/anxiety-uk-memberships/.
As we as a country prepare for the next phases of COVID-19 and which may likely include individuals having to enter into self-isolation, if you experience anxiety, it’s important to plan in advance for the possibility of this. Having a few activities already listed and in your mind, ‘ready to go’ in the case of self-isolating, will help keep your spirits up and protect against you experiencing a dip in your mental wellbeing.
Here’s some suggestions from the Anxiety UK staff team (many of whom have their own personal experience of anxiety) –
- Download some podcasts you’ve been meaning to listen to
- Watch that boxset on Netflix if you have time on your hands
- Having boxes of things prepared that can be done alone, things like arts and crafts, knitting, video games
- Try some meditation, especially for those who’ve never tried it
- Learning a new hobby, something like origami or other simple craft tasks
- Education (via online links)
- Skyping friends and Facetime calls
- Exercise bike
- Knitting and other crafts
All great ideas to keep active and busy.
Finally it’s important to try not to panic; strategies such as cutting down on watching the news can be helpful. Remember to look at things factually and remember that useful phrase ‘this too shall pass’.