You’re Not Alone, and You CAN Overcome the Feeling
If constantly reading and being exposed to all the coronavirus news is making you feel stressed, you’re not alone. Many people are sharing their worries with their families, friends, and publicly on social media. Experts say overloading on information about coronavirus, how it can impact your life, and the economy, can make you particularly anxious and distressed. This becomes especially overwhelming when you’re stuck indoors, not socializing with family and friends, and you keep endlessly scrolling through your newsfeed. Be proactive and start working your way toward overcoming this anxiety.
Reach Out for Help to Deal with Coronavirus Anxiety
If you struggle with anxiety, you’re feeling overwhelmed, you feel you are not handling the effects of social distancing, and being away from your friends and family, or you’re really feeling socially isolated, reach out and speak with a mental health professional. There are social workers and psychotherapist at Family-Therapy who can help you manage your anxiety.
Right now, psychotherapists, social workers and psychologists are offering telehealth or eCounselling (video conferencing) and phone sessions to reach clients who may not wish to come in for a therapy session. While this may not be your preferred way to speak with a therapist, speaking with a mental health professional can provide you with tools to cope and reduce your coronavirus anxiety. Psychotherapists have training on how to provide counselling services online and protect your privacy and confidentiality.
Avoid too Much News—It Increases Anxiety
While it can be important to keep on top of the current situation, exposing yourself to too many negative and stressful stories can increase your anxiety and stress levels. If you find yourself being overwhelmed by the constant stream of COVID-19 news, choose to take a break from social media and avoid scrolling through all your news feeds.
Make the decision to take a break from the news or decide how often you want to read or listen to the news. You can also choose to have a news break before going to sleep so you are not awake all night worrying about what you just read or saw on the news. You decide how often you want to get yourself updated on the current situation in your community. Choose the source of your news carefully. Find useful, factual, and reputable sources of information from your local or provincial public health agencies.
Feel free to disable your news alerts on your phone or laptop. In order to reduce your anxiety, check your newsfeed a couple of times a day or decide to only look at your newsfeed at a set time. Having a news break can really reduce your anxiety.
Make Sure You’re Practicing Positive Self-Care
Now that many of us are telecommuting to our office and not leaving our homes, it’s really important to take care of ourselves by eating healthy meals, getting enough sleep, trying to maintain a regular routine, and making sure you are not overworking.
We’ve all seen the jokes on Facebook about now it’s time to put on our nighttime PJs and take off our daytime PJs. While it’s certainly fine to wear more comfortable clothing at home, you probably want to make sure you’re not hanging out in your PJs all day. Washing up and changing out of your sleepwear will make you feel better and more refreshed, as we spend a lot of time inside our homes.
Self-care can also look like you and your partner trading off childcare during the day so each of you can get in some productive work time and make time to go for a quick walk. Even something as simple as going for a walk around the block can help offset the negative effects of sitting at your desk all day and make you feel better. Ensure both you and your partner are not overworking and not going back to work after dinner.
Self-care is different for everyone. Self-care is engaging in an activity which is rejuvenating as opposed to a passive activity such as just gaming or watching TV. Research shows that exercising helps you attain and maintain good physical health and it can also help reduce your anxiety. Getting out for a quick walk, run, or any form of aerobic exercise that gets your heart beating will reduce your feelings of anxiety.
Self-care can also include reading a good book, doing a puzzle, woodworking, repairing your car, gardening or playing music.
Mindfulness exercises or practice are particularly helpful in the treatment of anxiety. Mindfulness isn’t turning off your mind and thinking of nothing but of being present and focusing on one thing at a time. Simple mindfulness exercises such as listening to or feeling your breath can help you quickly reduce your anxiety.
One of the easiest and quickest ways to reduce your anxiety and bring a sense of calmness is to breathe in for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of seven, and exhale very slowly for a count of eight. Before you start the simple breathing exercise, check in on how anxious you might be feeling and how much tension there is in your body. Repeat this pattern for at least 4 cycles and then reassess your level of anxiety and stress. Do not do this breathing exercise if you are driving or in a bathtub. You can find many videos on line demonstrating this breathing technique.
There are many free apps you can download that can help you work on your breath work, whether it’s taking a quick break during the day to reduce your anxiety or to help you fall asleep at night.
Focus on What You Can Control, and Reduce Your Coronavirus Anxiety
If you just watch the news, it can be very dismal and overwhelming. If this all seems overwhelming, do not blame yourself for feeling anxious. Your emotions are real, and it’s alright to feel overwhelmed especially during times of uncertainty. You can actively reduce and manage your anxiety by focusing on what you can control and looking for solution-focused proactive actions.
You can’t control if other people are not following social distancing rules or if they wash their hands. Focus on the things that you and your family can do, such as washing hands, avoiding unnecessary trips to the stores as well as the positive things your local municipal and public health officials are doing to help protect you and your community. Remind yourself that many people are working hard to help keep us safe and care for those who have become ill.
Whenever you feel powerless, focus on the actions you can take instead of those you cannot control. Focusing on what you and your children can do together to help protect your family is empowering.
Create a Realistic Routine
We do not know when we will all return to in-person work or when our kids will get back on the school bus to head off to school. It’s important to create a routine so the days don’t all just blend one into another. It is important to create a sense of routine for yourself and your kids.
Routine can be an anchor to our days. No matter what’s going on, knowing that we will be having lunch, dinner around 6 pm, and going to bed around 8 to 10 pm, can be a real sense of comfort for your young children. Everyone needs a routine, whether it’s your four-year-old or your 17-year-old. Make sure everyone’s getting a good meal, pitching in to help prepare meals or clean up, spending time hanging out together as a family, getting some alone and downtime, and getting outside for some fresh air.
You don’t have to be fanatical about them getting schoolwork done but spending some time reading or doing math problems helps provide some structure in both your life and theirs. Math doesn’t need to involve just doing multiplication tables. Reading doesn’t have to be all about Shakespeare but can involve reading comic books or their favourite novels. As the school year winds down, it is important to think about your child’s mental state.
Many children are not coping with online learning. They may find it exhausting, have difficulty staying focused while at home, or sitting still is not part of their learning style. Do not be overly discouraged if you feel your child or teen has not accomplished everything they need this year at school. Talk with their teachers and your spouse and decide what is more important, their mental health, or finishing up every school task. While I am not advocating truancy, it is important to focus on their mental health as they finish up this school year. Hopefully our school system will be open again so the students can get back to in-class learning which is an important priority for their mental well-being.
Coping with this unpredictable time can feel more doable and less stressful when we have some structure in place that reminds us that we are still on track. If you need more tips on how to deal with coronavirus anxiety or anxiety in general, reach out to our team to book an appointment today. We are here to listen.