COVID 19 and Anxiety

Whether you already suffer with anxiety and you’re feeling more with Coronavirus, or you are starting to feel anxious with everything going on with Coronavirus, remember you are not alone and there are things you can do to help yourself manage it. Self care is always important!

With all the advice about self-isolating, remember that mental health issues and especially anxiety can make us feel isolated. So if you’re self-isolating or feeling isolated, it’s really important to stay in touch with people. There are lots of ways to do this without having to physically see someone.

In this blog I’m going to cover some of the things you can do to manage your anxiety and worry, taken from the Mind website. So we’re going to look at:

  • Talk to someone you trust
  • Try to manage your worries
  • Try breathing exercises.

Talk to Someone You Trust

Now this is one that sounds so simple at face value, but I know it can be one of the hardest. But don’t we tend to find that in life, that when things are hard to do, they usually end up being one of the best things we can do?

Talking to someone we trust about our anxiety and worries is so important. It can be a really hard thing to do, but it can provide you with a huge sense of relief and most likely you will have someone to help support you.

I can say that hand on heart, one of my main issues with my mental health, was that I bottled it up and didn’t tell anyone how I was feeling. This was for various reasons, I didn’t want people to think I was weak or strange, or that I didn’t have it together. Also that I thought the things going on in my head relating to anxiety, would be things that people would shrug off, I could hear people saying things like “oh don’t be daft, just get on with it!”

All these issues that I had created in my head, couldn’t have been further from the truth!

The best thing I ever did was to open up about how I felt. Seriously! Whether it was to my counsellor, my wife, my close family and friends. Now that may seem overwhelming to open up to all those people, I just want to be clear, I didn’t do that all at once. It took time. As I felt more comfortable I was able to open up to more people. The first time is definitely the hardest, but immediately I felt a release of pressure. Each time after that it got easier and more pressure was released.

So I can’t encourage enough, to open up to someone you trust, and it’s important that it’s someone you trust that you don’t think will judge you!

However, if you don’t feel you have anyone like that, or you simply don’t want to talk to someone you know to start off with, there are freephone lines you can call with people that want to take your call. There is the Samaritans on 116 123 and Anxiety UK text 07537 416 905 or call 03444 775 774 for info.

Try to Manage Your Worries

Now for me, and I can imagine for most people suffering with mental health issues, there is a real sense of a lack of control.

This is especially the case with anxiety and worries. Anxiety can make worrying really hard to stop. It is also really easy to get into the mindset that you have to worry about something, because if you don’t then something bad will happen.

With most mental health issues, including anxiety, we can feel like we have no control of our thoughts and emotions. We can be overwhelmed by things out of our control. But it is possible by taking small steps, to gradually take control back.

To be clear, I’m not saying we shouldn’t worry or we shouldn’t be concerned about something. Of course we should. But with anxiety, this can spiral out of control. You get to the point that all you do is worry!

This constant worrying can have issues with your mental health and also your physical health. It can make you feel sick and not want to eat or drink. It can also affect your sleep and we all know our bodies need sleep. So we must learn ways to control our worries.

Different things work for different people, but there are some simple exercises we can try. Some of these things are linked to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT.

Here are a couple of exercises that could work for you.

  • Set aside a specific time to focus on your worries – so you can reassure yourself you haven’t forgotten to think about them. Some people find it helps to set a timer.
  • Write down your worries and keep them in a particular place – for example, you could write them in a notebook, or on pieces of paper you put in an envelope or jar.
By putting time aside for our worries, we can begin to manage them by attempting to ensure we don’t carry our worries 24/7.

By doing this, the theory is that you are managing your worries at a certain time. You have a place for them so that you don’t need to further worry that you may forget them. The outcome being that you don’t need to constantly worry, result right!?

This method is also linked to Mindfulness. One of the things with mindfulness is about separating our thoughts from our emotions. If we feel a certain emotion, like worry, we tend to feed that negative feeling by constantly creating an internal narrative around that feeling and it just spirals.

Try Breathing Exercises

Now essentially with breathing exercises, what you are attempting to do is relax yourself. Anxiety and worry can make us feel very nervous, on edge and sometimes agitated.

I know breathing exercises don’t work for everyone, but I have found that breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation and other forms of meditation, really help me.

By concentrating on our breathing we are essentially bringing our attention in to the present moment. Trying to release ourselves from the worries of what could happen in the future! Which is basically one of the main concepts with…yes you guessed it…Mindfulness! 🙂

There are all sorts of breathing exercises out there to help you to relax. It is worth trying different ones to find one that suits you.

Interestingly, breathing is one of the things that is forgotten about when we are in crisis for example, or having a panic attack. What is it people always say in these situations? “Remember to breathe, take slow deep breaths.”

I would add that breathing exercises shouldn’t be used for things like social anxiety, for further information on this please see this link.

So to summarise, anxiety and worry can be overpowering and debilitating. Without talking about my anxiety, it eventually meant I suffered with social anxiety and couldn’t leave the house. Anxiety will create a cloud of negative thoughts and worries around you, but if you can reach out, and or do other things to manage the worry, you’ll hopefully feel this cloud start to disappear. You need to find a way that works for you, and thankfully there are lots of things to try.

Take care of yourselves and your loved ones.

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