The Coronavirus lockdown is having an increasingly negative impact on mental health globally. The World Health Organisation has now recognised that the longer lockdown is extended, the more it affects our stress levels. While we can’t predict how long this will last, there are things we can do in the short term to help us manage stress caused by the pandemic.
Here we outline our top tips to help make your anxiety more manageable during the Coronavirus pandemic.
1. Modify your media consumption
While we’re at home, it’s easy to spend a large chunk of our days watching the news intently, keeping up with every update from the Prime Minister and speculating about when life will ‘go back to normal’. Research shows that a third of us are reading the news and our use of social media has sky-rocketed.
Watching the constant stream of news is overwhelming on the best of days, let alone when there’s not much positive to hear from it. Try to switch the news off, remove updates from news apps on your phone and avoid articles shared on social media. If you must still watch the news, pick one trusted source and check it once a day for five minutes.
Spending time consuming negative news or news that fills you with feelings of worry, will only make stress and anxiety worse. Make some time when you would usually be commuting to work to turn off all screens and step away from your phone and get some fresh air if you can.
2. Edit your social media feed
Is your Facebook feed full of negative news stories from unreliable sources? Is your Instagram packed with people exercising five times a day, building businesses and creating new hobbies, making you feel guilty for not accomplishing your goals?
Remember that your social media feed is for you to see. Try not to compare your life with the ‘highlight reel’ posted by others. Edit and curate your feed to eliminate the things that make you feel bad and instead follow people and topics that make you feel positive and happy.
This doesn’t mean deleting friends and family members, you can simply ‘mute’ people (without them knowing) until you feel in a place where you’re ready to see their posts again. This is available on most social media networks including Whatsapp and Messenger.
3. Stay connected to your loved ones
Whether you’d class yourself as an introvert or extrovert, we all crave human connection. In fact, communicating with others has been proven to improve our self esteem, confidence and happiness. Catching up with family on a Zoom quiz or reconnecting with an old friend are valuable uses of our time and will make you feel better in the long run.
Let’s face it, we’re all in the same boat and many of us are feeling lonely. Try to make a habit of catching up with someone daily, even if only for five minutes.
4. Focus on controlling what you can
For many of us, anxiety and stress is caused by the feeling of not being in control of our own lives. Our usually very structured days are gone in the confines of the four walls of our homes and reduced productivity can add to negative feelings.
Instead of focusing on what you can’t control, think about what you can and create routines around that. For example, you may not be able to control your busy work day if it’s full of Zoom meetings, but you can control your morning and how you set yourself up for the day. Make a morning routine, go for a walk or a run at 6pm to signal the end of the working day or maybe call a friend on your lunch break. Creating some structure that you stick to, will help with productivity and feeling like you’re in charge of your own life.
5. Don’t feel bad for doing nothing
A lot of people are using this time to better themselves, whether it’s by learning a new language, setting up their own business or becoming an amateur sourdough baker. If that makes you feel happy, do it. But if it doesn’t, don’t and don’t feel pressured into constantly doing things. Although we’re all in this situation together, how people cope differs from person to person. Remember that this is not normal, so if it brings you a sense of normality to chill out and watch Netflix, then do and enjoy.
Give some of these tips a go when feelings of anxiety arise and if you feel like you need more support with managing your stress and anxiety, our skilled krysallis therapists are here to help you. Get in touch with us here, to see how we can support you through the pandemic.
We are offering discounted support services to frontline and key workers, click here to find out more.