With news and media coverage of coronavirus almost everywhere, chances are that you feel worried – and why wouldn’t you? Your daily life will have changed and you may simply be avoiding daily activities that seemed perfectly safe only a few months ago.
At Elysium, we strongly encourage you to follow the NHS and Gov.uk guidelines about hygiene (disinfectants and handwashing), travel safety and how to best protect yourself and your loved ones. These websites are updated regularly with new information and advice.
However, even when you follow the guidelines, you might still be very worried, which may slowly be filtering into most of your thinking: “What if someone coughs on the bus?”, “What if a co-worker sneezes next to me?”, “What if I catch it?” These thoughts may be so strong, that they influence your everyday life.
The idea is not for you to divest yourself of your worry and stay carelessly positive – of course not! You are entitled to your worry and you have the right to feel anxious about our current and very real global situation. A certain amount of worry and anxiety helps us stay safe. However, if you are feeling overwhelmed and finding it difficult to manage your anxiety and worry levels, here are 7 steps to help you manage coronavirus anxiety:
Validate your feelings
It is normal to feel anxious and worried, especially in a very real situation like the one we are currently in. Millions of people are concerned about the risks of coronavirus. Validate and normalise your feelings. You have a right to feel worried – however, you also allowed to put your worries into perspective.
Differentiate between productive and unproductive worry
Productive worry leads to productive actions. For example, it is productive to wash your hands more frequently, use sanitisers, and avoid crowded places and unnecessary travels. However, unproductive worry is rooted in “what if” thoughts – to which we have no answers. If you notice that your worry tends to consist of unproductive thoughts, read the next step on acceptance
Worrying gives you the illusion of certainty, as you think it prepares you for the worst, so there are no surprises. However, certainty is an impossible thing to achieve in life, and worrying only gives you a “fake” sense of assurance. In order to become more tolerant of it, challenge your uncertainty by asking yourself “What is the probability of this happening?”, “Are there times I can tolerate uncertainty?”, “How do others tolerate not knowing, and what can I learn from them?”
Probability, not possibility
When we worry, we tend to think “what if it happens to me?” (another “what if” thought = unproductive worry). The possibility is there, however, what is the probability? Especially, when you are already in control of your hygiene, social distancing, and travel safety.
We’ve all done it; Googling symptoms and risks – and they all lead to the worst case scenario and the worst possible (note; not probable) outcome. Avoiding Googling as much as you can is one of the quickest and easiest ways to manage coronavirus anxiety.
Set aside worry time (a CBT intervention)
If you notice that you are worrying throughout the day, set aside 15 minutes each day where you allow yourself to worry as much as you wish – i.e. at 11:30. If you find yourself worrying outside of this time, simply write it down and come back to it at 11:30. And remember to ask yourself “Is this a productive or unproductive worry?”
Set Daily goals
Worrying is time-consuming. Instead, set yourself positive daily goals, for example; calling your friends, exercising, getting work done. Occasionally, your mind will drift to worrying thoughts; make a note of them and return to them during your worry time.
At Elysium Private Health Brighton, we provide telephone and video conferencing therapy sessions for people who are experiencing mental health difficulties in these uncertain times. If you would like to know more about our services or how to manage coronavirus anxiety, give us a call on 01273 059700.