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Managing Coronavirus Anxiety

April 6th, 2020

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and worried about coronavirus as developments are continually being reported in the global media.

Abergavenny-based Clinical Psychologist, Dr Chris James, shares his list of seven things you can do right now to get on top of your worries:

1.Limit excessive media exposure. Are you suffering from information overload? While it’s important to stay informed about the latest Government advice, if you find yourself checking the news too often try setting boundaries around how much time you spend accessing news reports. And be wary of the source; stick to reputable websites that you trust (e.g. NHS website, BBC).

2.Know when to step back from social media. Lots of people use social media as a way of expressing their current emotional state. Emotions can often be confusing, transient and powerful. Remind yourself of this when you read or see something that starts to make you feel anxious. It is understandable that lots of people are currently feeling worried. However, overly exposing yourself to other people’s anxiety can be detrimental to your own mental health. Therefore, try to be selective and mindful when accessing social media and step back if you find that it just makes you feel worse.

3. Acknowledge that you are feeling anxious or fearful and don’t give yourself a hard time. Notice the feelings and remind yourself, “It’s understandable that I feel this way”. Be kind towards yourself. Remind yourself that just because you think something, it doesn’t make it true. Thoughts are just thoughts; they’re not always reliable. Are your thoughts starting to run away with themselves? If so, notice this and try to step back from them. Take a moment and just focus on breathing slowly and deeply. If you keep getting ‘dragged in’ to worrying thought patterns, then distracting yourself with an activity can also be helpful.

4. Practice self-care. Protect some time each day to do something that brings you calm. Try a mindful activity to focus on something that gives you a sense of control and makes you feel calm, such as gardening, crafting or colouring.

5. Do things that give you a sense of achievement. These don’t need to be ‘big things’. If you have to self-isolate, use it as an opportunity to finally sort through all those boxes in the attic, tidy the garage, teach yourself a new skill (there are tutorial videos for just about anything on YouTube!). Then notice the achievement, no matter how small, and allow yourself to feel good about it.

6. Connect with friends and family by phone or online. Reminisce about silly things. Laugh. Contact older family members and see if they’re ok, particularly if they’re having to self-isolate. A chat on the phone could make a big difference to them, and you.

7. Focus on the things that are in your control. Such as regularly washing your hands, boosting your immune system through healthy eating, staying hydrated and taking good care of your sleep, and planning ahead for likely changes to your work or home routines.

Dr James is a Clinical Psychologist with 15 years experience in the NHS. He now works in private practice providing treatments for a broad range of mental health difficulties and psychological issues, including anxiety, depression, OCD, traumatic life events, loss and bereavement. He also provides evidence-based treatment for insomnia (CBT-I). He provides psychological assessment, consultation and therapy from the Abergavenny Natural Therapy Centre on Cross Street, or by phone or Skype/online. Contact: 07899 233558 /email info@drchrisjames.com or visit  www.drchrisjames.com

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