How To Cope With Coronavirus Anxiety

It's perhaps hard to believe that we are only into week two of the lockdown as I write this. So much seems to have happened over the last ten days or so and I hope you are doing ok in these challenging times.

Certainly normal life and usual routines have all changed for all of us right now, which can only be  a good thing because the more we all stay home and keep our distance from others, the more our awesome NHS will be able to cope and the more lives will be saved. 

And whilst we are all calling it a lockdown, let's not forget that currently there are a whole range of specific reasons that mean you can get out and about if essential or needed. Compared to some other countries who are struggling more than the UK right now and have much tighter restrictions, I'm certainly grateful that I can get out for a walk or run to exercise each day.

The impact of the coronavirus can be felt by all of us yet in many different ways. Many of us are now working from home yet others are still going to work because they are essential workers or can't work from home. Some businesses and employers are doing well whilst others are struggling. Some people have financial concerns or are waiting upon Government support. You may be worried about your own health or that of loved ones should they contract the virus. Some of us are now also trying to do at least a bit of home schooling with the challenges that entails. And some people are being very productive and perhaps learning new skills, whilst many others are struggling with anxiety, depression and stress and just trying to cope each day. 

With all the uncertainty and worry, you may very well be struggling with anxiety and stress about one or several aspects related to the coronavirus. In this first article about how to manage anxiety during the coronavirus I've covered the first three things that I suggest you start (or continue) doing to boast your mental health under lockdown. 

Managing Mental Health Under Lockdown 

Perhaps the first and most important thing to say about managing under lockdown is that these are strange, challenging and unusual times. None of us have lived through anything like this before.

It's perfectly ok to experience moments of anxiety, worry, stress or frustration. There's a lot going on, things are uncertain and none of us quite know  how long things may last, how things will be when life returns to 'normal' or how many lives may be sadly lost to the coronavirus. 

To not have moments of anxiety, worry or stress would be a bit weird really.

And it's perfectly ok to have moments of laughter, happiness and joy too and moments where you even temporarily 'forget' about what it going on in the world or it fades to the back or your mind for a while.   

Certainly I have experienced all of these emotions and the thoughts that go with them (and many others too), over the last two weeks. None of us are immune from the impacts and all of us are human.  

That means it's more important than ever to be kind to yourself, to remind yourself that it's ok and natural to have the anxious thoughts and feelings you may be experiencing and to not expect yourself to be some sort of superhero who surfs through the current situation untouched and unscathed.

There does seem to be a whole lot of pressure out there to ride the coronavirus in a constant state of positivity and productivity, perhaps picking up a qualification or two along the way. And if you are being as productive as usual then that's great and good luck to you.

Yet for some of you, just coping with, and getting through, the day may be where you are at. If getting up and dressed, feeding yourself and getting through the day with the distractions of boxsets and computer games is where you are at, then that's ok too. In these uncertain times, getting through these lockdown weeks in any way you can is the most important thing.   

Perhaps the one thing that will come out of the coronavirus is the recognition of the awesome dedication and hard work of our NHS in the UK. It was so uplifting to take part in the first event last week where households across the country stood at their windows and doorsteps to applaud the hard work they do.

Here we all are taking part and showing our appreciation:

  coronavirus anxiety help hypnotherapy

 And I also recorded a short video message to say thank you to the NHS too. You can have a watch by clicking on the image below:

 thank you nhs dan regan hypnotherapy ely

 

How To Cope With Coronavirus Anxiety 

Even outside all of the coronavirus unknowns and uncertainty, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the bombardment of suggestions for how to manage your time and mental health effectively during the lockdown. Perhaps it's just my inbox and social media feeds but it seems every other message is someone telling me what I should be thinking, feeling or doing over the coming days and weeks (of variable quality and helpfulness).

Anxiety is normal right now, yet there are things you can do to alleviate and take back control over some of the worry and stress around the coronavirus. Remember this will pass and you can handle it.

You can't control what is going on in the world, but you can start to take the steps that will put you more in control of your thoughts and feelings and will help you develop the resilence and fortitude you need until we reach calmer waters.

So rather than give you a dozen things right now that can help you to manage anxiety and boost your mental health, here are the top three things that I suggest you start with. Doing these consistently and daily will certainly start to put you in a better place as a foundation to build upon.

1. Focus On Your Three Things

Anxiety has a way of taking over your thoughts and feelings. The more anxious thoughts you have, the more anxious you feel and the more it can seemingly take over your focus and thinking. That may be a general thing or just linked to thoughts and mentions around the coronavirus. Either way, the more you focus on the anxiety, the more of it there seems to be and it can take over your thinking.

To start to counter this, each morning deliberately think of three things you are looking forward to that day. Now, these don't have to be big things or out of the ordinary things, just things that you consider to be positive, enjoyable or good in some way. Maybe you are looking forward to watching your favourite show, or going for a walk, speaking to a close friend or even your lunch. It really doesn't matter what the things are, you just want to have some things you consider will be more positive moments that day. Or, if you prefer, think of three (achievable) things you will get done that day and again these can be anything that you will feel better for having completed (that workout, sending that email, getting the washing done...whatever!).

The key thing is to shift the focus from anxiety around coronavirus and onto those moments each day (that will be there if you look for them) that make you feel a bit better in some way when you do them.

Then, each night, rather than thinking back on the worries and anxieties of the day, spend a minute or two thinking back on some of the better moments. Maybe you Facetimed a good friend, or something made you laugh, or you enjoyed something you did or felt proud for having done it. These may be the same things you thought of in the morning or different. They could even be people or things you are grateful for in your life and that contribute to your wellbeing and happiness. But again, rather than letting the quiet moments as you get ready for sleep be dominated by anxiety, deliberately focus on some of the better moments.

Repeating this daily can have a really positive impact on your mental health and is a useful reminder that no matter how strong the storm may seem right now, there are still moments of positivity or good moments to be had (and that you can consciously draw upon for benefit). Even better, this is something you can share with your household during coronavirus lockdown to multiply the benefit.

 

2. Regular Exercise

If you've read any of my mental health articles before then you probably already know that regular exercise would appear somewhere around here. And for good reason. There's a mass of research and evidence that supports the benefits of exercise for anxiety, depression and stress.

For me, it's my number one strategy for managing my mental health and something that I've engaged in nearly every day of this lockdown. Whilst I either head out for a run or into the garden for a bootcamp routine (thanks JTS Fitness), you can just as easily do something in your living room (there has been a huge influx of workout videos on You Tube and Facebook). Or do what I do with my kids when I do their PE lesson each day and just make it up and move as you go along. Exercise has huge benefits for anxiety and stress and if nothing else, it's half an hour or so giving your brain time off from thinking about the coronavirus and all it entails.

Here I am after doing a pretty gruelling tyre routine in the back garden (check out JTS Fitness on You Tube for the details):

coronavirus anxiety help hypnotherapy ely

If you still feel you need convincing of the benefits of exercise for anxiety, depression, stress and mental health then have a look at this article where I cover a whole range of the evidence and research: Ely Festive 5k 2019 and Why You Should Get Running For Your Mental Health

Now, some people may have concerns that intense exercise may suppress their immune system and so make them more susceptible to the risk of contracting the coronavirus. However, new analysis has highlighted the power of regular, daily exercise on your immune system and the importance of continuing to work out even in lockdown (Simpson et al, 2020, full reference below).

The analysis, only published in the last few days, says that regular exercise during the coronavirus lockdown is important to help you maintain a healthy immune system.

Author of the analysis, Dr James Turner from the Department for Health at the University of Bath explains: “Our work has concluded that there is very limited evidence for exercise directly increasing the risk of becoming infected with viruses. In the context of coronavirus and the conditions we find ourselves in today, the most important consideration is reducing your exposure from other people who may be carrying the virus. But people should not overlook the importance of staying fit, active and healthy during this period. Provided it is carried out in isolation - away from others - then regular, daily exercise will help better maintain the way the immune system works – not suppress it” (University of Bath press release).

As the authors also mention, it's important to pay attention to the amount of sleep you are getting and maintaining a healthy diet.

So there you have it, during these uncertain times, exercise or being active, is  going to be one of the most helpful ways to support your mental health and tackle anxiety, depression and stress.   

 

3. Listen To This Audio

More than ever, now is a good time to give your brain some time off from all the worry and stress. Certainly limiting how much you watch the news can help, as can limiting social media which is full of skewed opinions, fake news and a wealth of worrying and often conflicting posts (suddenly everyone is an expert on viruses and how to manage a pandemic). All the worrying posts and news stories can just fuel your anxiety and leave you overthinking and tense. 

As well as limiting those sources, take twenty or so minutes a day to listen to one of my free hypnosis downloads or to use an app like Headspace. To support you during the coronavirus I've made my Stress Relief hypnosis download and Creating Calm hypnosis audio available to you free of charge. Listen consistently each day and I think you'll find your mind becoming calmer and clearer (you can also get my Rapid Relaxation hypnosis download free as always). I've already received a load of positive feedback from people using these audios to manage their coronavirus anxiety and I would love for you to benefit too. 

 

Rather than trying to do a hundred different things to help with your anxiety, worry and stress, put these three things in place and make them part of your daily routine. I'm sure you will find them beneficial and then you can start to add some other things into your routine to build upon these foundations. I'll be back soon with more suggestions. Until then, take care of yourself and others and stay safe.

Stay healthy and safe,

Dan Regan

Hypnotherapy in Ely & Newmarket and Zoom/Skype 

 

Seeking help to manage your anxiety, worry and stress? Book your Online Complimentary Hypnotherapy Strategy Session with Dan now: Appointments

Find out what other people have said after their hypnotherapy sessions with Dan: What People Say

And check out these powerful hypnosis downloads that can start helping you right away: Hypnosis Downloads

 

Reference:

Richard J Simpson, John P Campbell, Maree Gleeson, Karsten Krüger, David C Nieman, David B Pyne, James E Turner, Neil P Walsh. Can Exercise Affect Immune Function to Increase Susceptibility to Infection? Exerc Immunol Rev, 2020