As the coronavirus pandemic rapidly sweeps across the world, it is inducing a considerable degree of fear, worry and concern in the population at large and among certain groups in particular, such as older adults, care providers and people with underlying health conditions.
In public mental health terms, the main psychological impact to date is elevated rates of stress or anxiety. But as new measures and impacts are introduced – especially quarantine and its effects on many people’s usual activities, routines or livelihoods – levels of loneliness, depression, harmful alcohol and drug use, and self-harm or suicidal behaviour are also expected to rise.
If you’re anxious already, the current pandemic can really make things tough!
What will I learn in this blog?
• That anxiety can be made worse in the current pandemic
• Almost everyone is feeling some anxiety right now
• Knowing that you’re not alone in these feelings can help
• How hypnosis could help you regain a better balance
I’m worried about being anxious!
Worries, doubts, and anxieties are a normal part of life. It’s natural to worry about an unpaid bill, an upcoming job interview, or a first date. But “normal” worry becomes excessive when it’s persistent and uncontrollable. You worry every day about “what ifs” and worst-case scenarios, you can’t get anxious thoughts out of your head, and it interferes with your daily life.
Constant worrying, negative thinking, and always expecting the worst can take a toll on your emotional and physical health. It can sap your emotional strength, leave you feeling restless and jumpy, cause insomnia, headaches, stomach problems, and muscle tension, and make it difficult to concentrate at work or school.
You may take your negative feelings out on the people closest to you, self-medicate with alcohol or drugs, or try to distract yourself by zoning out in front of screens. Chronic worrying can also be a major symptom of Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), a common anxiety disorder that involves tension, nervousness, and a general feeling of unease that colours your whole life.
What can I do about it?
The NHS (www.nhs.uk) has some great tips about combating anxiety during these challenging times.
1. Stay connected with people
Maintaining healthy relationships with people we trust is important for our mental wellbeing.
There are lots of different ways to stay in touch with friends and family when you cannot meet in person. You could schedule time each week to speak over the phone or make time for regular video calls.
Social media is another good way to stay connected, but make sure you take breaks from your digital devices and switch off before bed.
We all need to feel connected still, so keep in touch – whether it’s with people you normally saw often or reconnecting with old friends.
2. Talk about your worries
It’s normal to feel worried, scared or helpless about the current situation. Remember: it’s OK to share your concerns with others you trust – and doing so may help them too.
If you cannot speak to someone you know or if doing so has not helped, there are plenty of helplines you can try instead.
3. Support and help others
Helping someone else can benefit you as well as them, so try to be a little more understanding of other people’s concerns, worries or behaviours at this time.
Try to think of things you can do to help those around you. Is there a friend or family member nearby you could meet outdoors? If you cannot meet up, you could phone or message them.
If you do go out to offer support or help to others, always follow social distancing guidelines when you are outside your home.
4. Feel prepared
As the outbreak continues, it can help to work through what changes to government guidelines mean for you so you feel more prepared and less concerned.
It can help to think through a typical week: how will you continue to be affected and what will you need to do to solve any problems?
If you have not already, you might want to talk with your employer. Find out about government support for businesses and self-employed people and understanding your sick pay and benefits rights.
5. Look after your body
Our physical health has a big impact on how we feel. At times like these, it can be easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour that end up making you feel worse.
Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, drink enough water and exercise regularly. Avoid smoking or drugs, and try not to drink too much alcohol.
Going for a walk, run or bike ride can really help lift your mood and clear your mind – just remember to follow social distancing guidelines. Or you could try an easy 10-minute home workout.
6. Stick to the facts
Find a credible source you can trust – such as GOV.UK or the NHS website – and fact-check information you get from newsfeeds, social media or other people.
Think about how possibly inaccurate information could affect others too. Try not to share information without fact-checking against credible sources.
You might also want to consider limiting the time you spend watching, reading or listening to coverage of the outbreak, including on social media, and think about turning off breaking-news alerts on your phone.
7. Stay on top of difficult feelings
Concern about the COVID-19 outbreak is normal. However, some people may experience intense anxiety that can affect their daily life.
Try to focus on the things you can control, such as your behaviour, who you speak to, and where and how often you get information.
It’s fine to acknowledge that some things are outside of your control, but if constant thoughts about COVID-19 are making you feel anxious or overwhelmed, try some ideas to help manage your anxiety or listening to an audio guide.
8. Do things you enjoy
Feeling worried, anxious or low might stop us doing things we usually enjoy. Focusing on your favourite hobby, relaxing or connecting with others can help with anxious thoughts and feelings. If you are not able to do the things you usually enjoy because of the current guidelines, it might be possible to continue with your favourite hobbies online, alone or with members of your household. You could also think about trying something new. There are lots of free tutorials and courses online, or try online pub quizzes and music concerts.
9. Focus on the present
Focusing on the present, rather than worrying about the future, can help with difficult emotions and improve our wellbeing.
Relaxation techniques can also help some people deal with feelings of anxiety.
Can you use hypnosis for anxiety?
You certainly can, in fact, we’ve developed a special relaxation programme for you to use, and it’s FREE to download. Just follow this link!
You can also have a free initial consultation with one of our therapists to find out if hypnotherapy is right for you.
It’s important to find a therapist that respects your confidentiality, so that you feel comfortable telling them all about your issues.
Remember, your exterior world is a reflection of who you are on the inside. To change your outer world, you have to change your inner world. That’s where hypnosis really comes in.
To find out more about hypnosis and how it works, have a look here: https://thehypnosisclinic.com.sg/what-is-hypnosis/
What did I learn here?
That these are challenging times, however, there are things you can do to reduce your anxiety.
Sometimes people feel that their anxiety is simple, or silly, or not worth bothering anyone with, however, if it’s something that’s taking over your life, it really can be stopped.
If you’d like to find out more about how hypnosis can help you, have a look at our website. We offer a free initial consultation, either by a Telehealth video link or at our clinic in Novena Medical Centre.
Or you fancy a chat, just give us a call.