The Coronavirus has thrown us into uncertainty and the constant flow of news that we are exposed to can feel overwhelming and relentless. All of this can take a toll on your mental health, especially for those already suffering with anxiety disorders. So how can we protect our mental health during times of isolation and uncertainty? Being concerned about what is going on in the news is understandable, but for many it could make panic worse.
Here are some of our tips to protect your mental health while working from home:
Limit Your News Intake and Be Cautious About Your Choice of News Sources
Having a constant bombardment of news outlets on social media and through apps such as the BBC News app can feel overwhelming. For some that are more prone to anxiety, it can feel like everything is spiralling out of control. Having long periods away from news sites and social media can help you manage your anxiety. Mental health charities like AnxietyUK also provide a helpline should you feel overwhelmed and need someone qualified to talk to.
- Limit the amount of time you spend reading or watching things which aren’t making you feel better. Perhaps decide on a specific time to check in with the news
- There is a lot of misinformation swirling around – stay informed by sticking to trusted sources of information such as government and NHS websites
Social Media Breaks
Clicking on hashtags and seeing unverified news stories can make someone anxious and hopeless at the given situation. Be careful about which accounts you follow and limit yourself on the number of times a day you click on the COVID19 hashtags. Take the time to Mute key words which might be triggering on Twitter and unfollow or mute accounts. Muting Facebook posts and WhatsApp groups if you find it overwhelming.
Maintain Connections With People
Make sure you have the right phone numbers and email addresses of the people you care about. Agree on regular check-in times with your colleagues and loved ones so you feel connected to people around you. Strike a balance between having a routine and making sure each day has some variety.
It might end up actually feeling like quite a productive two weeks. You could work through your to-do list or read a book you’d been meaning to get to.
With months ahead of this pandemic, it is important to have down time. Continue to access nature and sunlight where possible. Exercise regularly, eat well and stay hydrated.
AnxietyUK suggests practising the “Apple” technique to deal with anxiety and worries.
Acknowledge: Notice and acknowledge the uncertainty as it comes to mind.
Pause: Don’t react as you normally do. Don’t react at all. Pause and breathe.
Pull back: Tell yourself this is just the worry talking, and this apparent need for certainty is not helpful and not necessary. It is only a thought or feeling. Don’t believe everything you think. Thoughts are not statements or facts.
Let go: Let go of the thought or feeling. It will pass. You don’t have to respond to them. You might imagine them floating away in a bubble or cloud.
Explore: Explore the present moment, because right now, in this moment, all is well. Notice your breathing and the sensations of your breathing. Notice the ground beneath you. Look around and notice what you see, what you hear, what you can touch, what you can smell. Right now. Then shift your focus of attention to something else – on what you need to do, on what you were doing before you noticed the worry, or do something else – mindfully with your full attention.