As coronavirus continues to dominate news headlines, Facebook feeds and Instagram stories, the reality is that it isn’t just people’s physical health that’s suffering. Anxiety about the virus is also having an impact on mental health and wellbeing.
The virus causes flu-like symptoms including a fever, cough or difficulty breathing, with the Australian government indicating that the majority of cases appear to be relatively mild. However, with blanket news coverage and social media saturation, including deaths both in Australia and overseas, there is naturally a lot of anxiety as a result of the virus outbreak.
We’ve pulled together some top tips to help you navigate the uncertainty and keep those nervous thoughts at-bay.
Think about your access to media and social media
While self-isolation and social distancing allows you to be removed from the world, social media tends to bring it right back into the palm of your hand, making the situation feel far closer to home than it may actually be.
While it’s helpful to understand what’s going on and to keep abreast of the latest updates, often too much information can become difficult to process and in fact make matters worse.
Limiting your time on social media and rethinking where you get your information from will help to alleviate some of the angst. With so many news outlets and social media pages sensationalising headlines, it’s important to rely on sensible, balanced news reporting from reputable outlets.
Unfollow people, pages and websites that aren’t helpful, and stick to those that provide informative and helpful information, such as the Australian Government’s Department of Health.
Don’t ignore your anxiety
One of the worst things you can do is to suppress feelings of worry. Try keeping a journal or speaking to friends or family about your concerns. If social isolation is on the cards, engaging with some of Pink Hope’s online support groups is a great way to get the connection whilst removing the physical interaction.
If you are feeling completely overwhelmed, reaching out to Lifeline Australia for a chat with one of their trained counsellors will help you to acknowledge and manage those feelings.
You can call them on 13 11 14.
Do something you can control
Whether that’s journaling, painting or reading a good book, putting yourself in control of a situation will help to alleviate some of the worry you may be feeling about being unable to control the external situation of the virus.
One of the most obvious, but least practiced management skills is to think about what you’re actually thinking. Sometimes we don’t even realise that we’re catastrophising by considering all the ‘what if’s?’.
It’s also helpful to try and bring your awareness back to the present moment, instead of living in the future. A simple way of doing this is by mentally noting five things that you can see, four things that you can hear, three things that you can feel, two things that you can smell and one thing that you can taste. This can help give your brain a rest from all the activity and stimulation.
Feelings of anxiousness can often be exacerbated when our diet is poor, our physical exercise is limited, and we deprive ourselves of sleep.
It’s important to ensure that you are meeting each of these needs – as best as you can during times of isolation – alongside managing your mental health.
If you need any extra support, please don’t hesitate to contact us.