How to support yourself if you are feeling anxious about Coronavirus
It is very understandable to feel concerned, or even overwhelmed, by the news at the moment. This might affect you, especially, if you are already struggling with your mental health or you have a physical illness. It may be that you’re anxious about your own health or someone in your family, or what impact the virus will have on your life or of those around you. Here are some suggestions as to how you can best support yourself.
Try to stick to the facts and avoid speculation
There is an awful lot of information out there and you might see things on social media that make you feel more anxious or worried. These are often not a reliable source of information and it is hard to know what is true and what is not. You can stay on top of accurate news and information about the virus by visiting government and NHS websites.
Try to limit your exposure to the news
At times like this we can feel a need to keep on top of things and stay in control. However, constant news reports or continually refreshing our social media feeds can start to make things feel more overwhelming. Maybe try to limit yourself to a certain amount of exposure and set these for certain times of the day when you have an opportunity afterwards to process what you hear. If it is feeling hard to think about anything else, maybe try to plan some things that you can enjoy or that can take your mind off it. Perhaps going for a walk, chatting to a friend, watching a film or reading a book. You could even take a break from social media completely for a while if you feel it is getting too much.
Try to stick to your normal routine
There is a lot of uncertainty around at the moment. At times like this it can help to try and stick to your regular routine to try and keep a sense of normality. Stick with what is familiar to you and try to keep up your usual patterns of day to day life as best you can, such as when you get up and go to bed, when you eat or study etc.
Try to prepare, emotionally
In the coming weeks we may find ourselves living life slightly differently and we may need to stay at home for periods of time. This may not be the easiest prospect for many people, but it could help to talk with family about how you would manage this if it happens. Maybe think about what you might do to stay connected with others, look after one another and your own well-being. Thinking ahead and having a plan together may help reduce some anxiety.
Try to discover things that help you calm or de-stress
As always, it is important that we look after our Mental Health at times of stress. Working to understand how to best support ourselves is vital and this will be very individual for each of us. There are ideas around self-care and staying emotionally healthy on my ‘Mental Health and Well-Being' pages on Firefly.
We can think about activities that can soothe and calm us when we feel anxious. Some people like listening to music, taking some time in nature or going for a walk, doing something creative, maybe cooking/ baking or pampering. You could even try some breathing/ relaxation exercises or meditation/ yoga. Alternatively, we might find distracting ourselves can be helpful. Perhaps watching a movie, TV, Netflix, YouTube or playing games. Playing with a pet, chatting with friends or doing some exercise might also help release some tension. Or (perish the thought!) maybe even getting some study done, so you feel more in control and on top of things.
Dealing with isolation
If you become unwell or have been in contact with people who are not well, you may be asked to ‘self-isolate’. Self-isolation means staying away from other people to prevent the potential spread of illness. Even if we are self-isolating, it is essential that we stay connected and have people that we can talk to. It will be important to think about who you can keep in touch with and find ways of doing this. Talking face to face on Skype, Facetime, WhatsApp etc. might help you and others who are going through the same thing.
Maintain your routine as much as possible by getting up in the morning and going to bed at the same time. Eating regular meals and staying hydrated will help also, as well as taking breaks throughout the day to talk to someone or do something that you enjoy. If it’s possible, try activities in your home that get you moving, like yoga or a YouTube exercise video.
Being kind to ourselves and others
It may be expected that I would say this, as the school counsellor, but it’s important during this time that you keep acknowledging how you are feeling and do this regularly. It’s not an easy time for anyone and it may well be that things feel a bit overwhelming and scary and that is very natural and understandable. You are not alone in feeling that way. However, it is important for you to find ways to express this. It’s good to talk about it wherever possible – to friends, family, teachers or even a volunteer on a helpline (numbers below). Try to find a way to release any tensions - write it down, draw it, maybe use some of the idea's above or check out some of the links to websites below. Remember to look out for your mates and check in to see how people are doing. Being there for others can also help us to feel better too.
Useful websites and helplines
Mental Health & Well-Being Pages on Firefly
Young Minds https://youngminds.org.uk/
The Mix https://www.themix.org.uk/
Crisis Messenger Service Text YM or The Mix to 85258 and a volunteer will get back to you
Samaritans 116 123 (24 hrs)