For those already living with stress or anxiety, the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19 (or coronavirus) may be particularly difficult.
In normal life, many of us have a bank of coping strategies, such as going to the gym, meeting up with friends or keeping busy with hobbies and work. In such uncertain and worrying times, many of these coping strategies have been taken away and the thought of spending so much time at home can be frightening.
Firstly, remember you are not alone. It’s okay to feel anxious and many others will be feeling the same way too. It’s still important to talk about how you’re feeling and to reach out if you need support.
Practise your usual coping strategies where possible – breathing techniques, grounding, focusing on the present. If you usually go to the gym – go for a walk or run (if you can) or try following a home workout video.
Limiting your exposure to the news is important too. While it is necessary to be aware of what is happening, there is no need to overexpose. This will only feed your fears. Allocate a set time of day where you will check the news, for example, after breakfast or during the government’s daily update. Then avoid or limit your exposure throughout the rest of the day.
Keep yourself busy and try not to allow your mind time to overthink and catastrophise. Creating a new routine is a great way to look after your mental health. Stay active and eat as well as you can.
Most importantly, be sure to make time for yourself every day. Self-care is crucial, whether that means taking a long bath, getting an early night, reading a book or baking a cake. Do something for you. Mental downtime is important too. Try practicing mindfulness with apps such as Headspace.
Remember that like everything else, this situation is temporary. There is lots of support available if you’re feeling particularly anxious or struggling to cope. Keep in touch with others and try to take one day at a time, focusing on the right now, rather than worrying about the ‘what ifs.’
Bethany Smith is a freelance writer from Hull, UK.