• Lindi Engelbrecht

Emotional Wellness - 4 Strategies for dealing with Coronavirus Anxiety

Covid19 Coping Stategies - keeping a positive perspective can focus your mind, and help you see that work can be a positive distraction

As the physical coronavirus pandemic continues to spread, an emotional and fear pandemic is following fast in its wake. We've now, in South Africa, reached the mid point of lockdown and a more prevalent and top-of-mind-topic of discussion is emotional and Psychological wellbeing.

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered life—and work—as we know it. If you still have a job and income to count on, you already know how lucky you are compared to the millions of people who are suddenly unemployed. But that doesn’t mean focusing on that job is easy.

Right now, your mind is probably running a million miles a minute, your Google search history and your social media feeds are all coronavirus all the time, and—frankly—you may feel like work is the last thing you care about. However I believe in these unpredictable times keeping a positive perspective can focus your mind, and help you see that work can be a positive distraction

Plus, your boss is still expecting you to get things done. So how do you keep mentally “showing up” to work?

According to Business Insider - Limit your media exposure, especially if you struggled with anxiety before the pandemic.

A clinical psychologist Julie Pike, said : Because panic arises when people overestimate a threat and underestimate their coping abilities, "watching coverage that repeatedly emphasizes both the rapid spread of coronavirus and lack of effective treatment" is a fuel for the anxiety fire "  

In an article I read this week, the BBC spoke to Nick, a father-of-two, who lives with anxiety, and he exclaimed that when he reads lots of news about the coronavirus it leads to panic attacks.

"When I'm feeling anxious my thoughts can spiral out of control and I start thinking about catastrophic outcomes," he says. However one strategy he employs is long periods away from news websites and social media which has helped him to manage his anxiety.

Get Outside

Breaking up your workday, and the monotony of social distancing, with some trips outside (a walk on the balcony or garden) can help each of us refresh and catch our breath. Those moments of sunshine and fresh air can help you to reset and refocus so that you can return refreshed and able to work.

Take care of your body and spirit

One way to get out of your head is to distract yourself with physical movement, even if your instinct is to resist motion. When we are really panicky, our tendency is to freeze; we don’t want to move. What we really need is to take action, and move more.

Coping Strategy - Take time out for activities you enjoy!

Beyond that, here are some tips for practicing self-care in the face of the unique disruptions caused by the coronavirus.

  • Get enough sleep. Go to bed and get up at the same times each day. Stick close to your typical schedule, even if you're staying at home.

  • Be kind to yourself. Go easy on yourself if you’re experiencing more depression or anxiety than usual. You’re not alone in your struggles.

  • Keep your regular routine. Maintaining a regular schedule is important to your mental health. In addition to sticking to a regular bedtime routine, keep consistent times for meals, bathing and getting dressed, work or study schedules, and exercise. Also set aside time for activities you enjoy. This predictability can make you feel more in control and you maintain a sense of normalcy.

  • Take time out for activities you enjoy. Read a good book, watch a comedy, play a fun board or video game, make something—whether it’s a new recipe, a craft, or a piece of art. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as it takes you out of your worries.

  • Avoid self-medicating. Be careful that you’re not using alcohol or other substances to deal with anxiety or depression. If you tend to overdo it in the best of times, it may be a good idea to avoid for now.

  • Take up a relaxation practice. When stressors throw your nervous system out of balance, relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can bring you back into a state of equilibrium. Regular practice delivers the greatest benefits, so see if you can set aside even a little time every day.

Connect with others

Build support and strengthen relationships:

  • Make connections. If you need to stay at home and distance yourself from others, avoid social isolation. Find time each day to make virtual connections by email, texts, phone, or FaceTime or similar apps. If you're working remotely from home, ask your co-workers how they're doing and share coping tips. Enjoy virtual socialising and talking to those in your home.

  • Do something for others. Find purpose in helping the people around you. For example, email, text or call to check on your friends, family members and neighbours — especially those who are elderly. If you know someone who can't get out, ask if there's something needed, such as groceries or a prescription picked up, for instance.

Everyone is in this together, and that is a comfort. You are not alone. If you feel alone, don't be silent. Instead, reach out to a friend or health care professional. Many people are feeling the same way. If you communicate your hopes and fears, and listen to others, it divides the burden and increases the connection. This decreases the sense of isolation and anxiety. Remember this : The words you speak and the thoughts you think becomes the house you live in.