Dealing with Anxiety and COVID-19

Dealing with Anxiety and COVID-19

This year has been bought to you by the phrases “unprecedented”, “uncertainties”, “everchanging” and the letters “w”, “t” and “f”.

 

Most Aussies (and our friends over the ditch) are experiencing at least some level of fear, and a few of us are experiencing a great deal. It’s no one’s business to tell you what a ‘reasonable’ amount is, but it is our business to help each other through it.

 

Here are our five steps to help dealing with anxiety during this time and beat the virus together.

 

Detecting anxiety in yourself and others

Most of our priorities involve our own safety and those around us feeling safe. The number one thing we can focus on is coming forward about anxiety, opening up and not feeling ashamed or covering up the issue. How do I do this you ask? Self-awareness. Through encouraging self-awareness, we can detect and solve, find triggers and fix them, and become proactive rather than reactive. Some questions we can ask are:

  • Am I feeling overwhelmed?
  • Do I find myself checking the headlines and looking for updates?
  • Am I thinking on it so deeply that I am finding myself distracted and not focused?
  • Am I remaining impartial or am I focusing on fear?

A relevant example – given the current circumstances, regular handwashing and cleaning of surfaces etc. could be considered appropriate. However, when this goes beyond the regular advice, it could be a sign anxiety is growing and this may be a good time to reach out to that person.

 

Helping with anxiety

Here are some tips to manage and alleviate stress and anxiety:

  • Focus on breathing, slow, steady and deep breaths.
  • Grounding exercises – using your senses to bring yourself into the present moment.
  • Take a walk.
  • Spend some time in the sunshine.
  • Listen to music.
  • Visualise a place where you can go in your mind to feel safe.
  • Reassure yourself with calming affirmations to recognise the moment of panic will pass.
  • Exercise – a valuable way to exhaust excess adrenalin in the body.
  • Talk it out.
  • Remove yourself from the situation.
  • Get a good night’s sleep.

 

Listening to facts – the risk

You might think the way to calm your nerves around Coronavirus is to use the facts. The problem – anxiety leads to alertness and over-alertness. A person experiencing anxiety is likely to know everything about Coronavirus. They’ve been feeding their swelling fear on a diet of videos, blogs and headlines. It’s almost like watching a storm roll in. As the ominous clouds grow and move closer, you know the storm is brewing and about to downpour.

Try focusing on emotions and only relying on very authentic sources, not engaging in office panel discussions or Mary on your Facebook Mummy’s group.

 

Stop the spread of anxiety

We encourage people feeling anxious to talk about it and share their emotions, rather than keeping it to themselves to bubble and brew. However, you might find when one shares their anxieties, those fears are now the newfound fears of the person who happens to be their sounding board. This can be as simple as chats in the office or over a Zoom conference, one colleague regales their co-workers with all the worst-case Coronavirus stories from all around the world.

So, what can we do to stop the spread of anxiety? Stick to the facts, eliminate your exposure to media and fear mongering, and focus on reliable sources. If you are experiencing someone pushing their anxieties onto you, listen and make them feel validated, but remain solid in the sense you have educated yourself in the way you feel comfortable with. Perhaps suggest they follow your steps to limiting the headlines and sticking to reliable authorities.

 

Focus on positivity

  • Look to the past. Find hope in what we have already endured and healed from – cyclones, financial crisis, terror attacks. All these atrocities and we still came through the other side. The world is stronger because of these.
  • How cool is it to see the world working together? The Aussies and our ANZAC counterparts have a long history of banding as one within our own nations and across the sea, so that’s a pretty common sight for us. But how amazing is it to see the teamwork of all humans on a worldwide scale? The majority of humans at the moment have one common goal, to stop the spread and flatten the curve. No one person you speak to has not been affected by the virus. We truly are all in this together and working damn well together on the whole.
  • Find solace in supporting local business. Perhaps your favourite coffee shop is still open for takeaway. Think – that one coffee you buy may be keeping their business afloat this week. You’re happy because you have coffee, and they’re happy they can remain open to see another day. It’s a win-win.
  • Use the technology at hand. We are lucky enough to live in a time where technology is so advanced, we can still see our loved ones, have a family conference online, and even play online games in a group. A lot of the time we find happiness in the little things, instead of calling mum or dad or the grandparents, FaceTime them. Seeing their faces rather than just hearing them can lift you to a whole new level. Everyday basics at a time like this, when they’re taken away from you, can be so important and comforting.
  • Take advantage of your newfound time. Is there a project that’s been sitting in a corner for who knows how long? Maybe you always wanted to teach yourself how to sew or learn a new language. Now’s the time! Challenge yourself and your mind! We can help you with short, online, live training courses, click here for more information.
  • Keep a routine. We are all in this topsy-turvy world, and sometimes finding and sticking to a routine can be comforting and grounding. Schedule yourself and your family to try and keep normality in your life.
  • Random acts of kindness. Surely, we’ve all seen the videos of Italians on their balconies singing and applauding their healthcare workers. Doesn’t that just warm your heart? It makes you feel good when you do good. Leave a note for your neighbour or even your postie or garbo. If you know of a healthcare worker, send them a bunch of flowers or leave some groceries at their door.

 

If you or someone you care about is distressed, in crisis, suicidal, or needs someone to talk to, help is available. The following services provide confidential, non-judgemental support:

  • Lifeline – 13 11 14
  • Kids Helpline – 1800 551 800
  • Beyondblue – 1300 224 636
  • Parentline – 1300 224 636
  • Online help:

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Have you found yourself, or someone you care about struggling with anxiety around Coronavirus?

Check out our blog with tips and tricks to help manage stress and anxiety at this time.