The current outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) is naturally causing increased levels of anxiety and stress among us all.
Here are some suggestions for ways to help manage that increased anxiety.
Stay connected. Connect with family and friends online or over the phone. Share your experience and your feelings with them and ask for help and support if needed. Listen with compassion and understanding to their struggles recognising that you and many others are struggling in this situation and you are not alone
Stay informed but limit your social media usage. It is important to stay informed of current developments particularly advice, guidelines and restrictions from government and the HSE. However, the constant stream of updates on social media can generate a lot of unnecessary worry and anxiety especially when the updates contain unverified rumours and speculation.
Read up-to-date, factual information on coronavirus in Ireland here,
Try to keep some structure in your day. Try to exercise regularly, maintain a healthy balanced diet and sleep regularly. These help you look after both your physical and emotional well-being.
Fit things into your day that help you relax and unwind. This may be listening to music, reading, watching TV, yoga, taking a bath. Practice relaxation techniques like focusing on your breath, progressive muscular relaxation, body scan, walking mindfully. See here for more details on relaxation techniques.
Mindfulness and compassion are two tools that can be very effective in combating anxiety and stress. See here for simple tools to practice mindfulness and compassion.
See here for some practical steps for responding to the Coronavirus based on the principles of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), an effective form of therapy for dealing with difficulties in life.
Notice your thoughts especially thoughts that involve blame, judgement, criticism, predicting the future and imagining the worst, generalising, disqualifying the positive and all-or-nothing thinking. Notice these thoughts, accept they are there but gently challenge them to see if they are true and look for more balanced alternatives.
For example, if you are constantly worried about contracting Coronavirus then take a few minutes to pause and think it through logically. Ask yourself whether you have actually been in contact with someone who has the virus and then whether you have been within two metres of the person for 15 minutes or more. Then, looking at all the evidence calmly, ask yourself if there any realistic reasons to suppose that you are at increased risk at the moment. Even if you are then consider that the majority of people who do contract the virus only experience mild to moderate symptoms and make a full recovery.
See this useful guide on Living with worry and anxiety amidst global uncertainty that contains a mixture of psycho-education and useful exercises you can use to manage worry and maintain well-being in these uncertain times.
Finally, if you feel you would benefit from talking with a professional during this anxious time, online counselling is currently available. Please click here to access the online counselling page of our website.