If you’ve checked the toilet paper or hand sanitiser shelves at the supermarket this week you’ll know there’s widespread stress about COVID-19 / Coronavirus. And many of you would have been scratching your head as you loaded up on rolls for fear of missing out because of everyone else’s panic buying.
The collective level of anxiety is concerning and we’d like to share some suggestions for thriving during this unusual moment in time. These will be especially helpful for people who already struggle with health anxiety, but all of us would benefit from checking in with our thinking and taking steps to be the best version of ourselves right now.
Get the facts
Take everything with a grain of salt unless it comes from a reputable source. Unfollow any account that promotes fear or fiction. Unfortunately there is a greater appetite for bad news when we are worried, so be mindful of why you are scrolling. Ask yourself, “Why am I Googling? Is there likely to be any more truly useful information than I obtained from the official sites?”
An example of a website to provide you with a snapshot of up to date information is this one from the WA Health Department: https://ww2.health.wa.gov.au/Articles/A_E/Coronavirus
A news fast
Don’t watch, read or listen to a second more of the news than is actually helpful for you.
Ask yourself, “Do I actually need more news? Will it help me in any practical or emotional sense or am I just letting my fear run the show?” Not much tends to happen within a day and you can always ask a non-anxious friend, who can watch all the news they like, to alert you if it does!
Decide on a proportionate response
If the experts are saying, for example, that two weeks worth of supplies might be wise,
then that is likely to be a good guide for a proportional response. Ask yourself, “Do I really need this item or am I feeding my anxiety?” Just because your sister’s friend’s uncle is stockpiling 100s & 1000s doesn’t mean it’s necessary.
Prioritise your anxiety management strategies
This would be a great time to boost your mindfulness practice, pay attention to slowing your breathing and use your helpful thinking techniques. Whatever you’ve found useful in the past, do more of it! And if you are still struggling, talk to your mental health professional about what else you can do.
If you haven't been taught any anxiety management strategies, you can find practical suggestions and resources online. For example, Beyond Blue has a range of tipsheets and audio recordings. Here's one for relaxed breathing practice:
Do what you would normally do
Keep doing what is important to you. At times like this, being involved in something that gives back is more important than ever. For example, you could connect more with your neighbours to make sure everyone has what they need. Or at least to have each other’s contact details if someone needs to isolate themselves or has run out of something like, maybe, toilet paper?!
Like the sign from 1939 says, just keep going with your normal life. Our everyday routines are a powerful way of instilling a sense of normalcy and calm. Don’t underestimate the power of doing the same things at the same time. Mow the lawn. Wash the dog. Floss your teeth. When external things seem unpredictable, maintain your own rhythms. This is especially important for kids.
And if you need any help, you can get come and talk with one of our team. Simply give us a call on 9456 0411 to arrange an appointment. No referral is needed, but you might be eligible for a Mental Health Treatment Plan referral from your GP. Please remember to book a longer appointment with them if you want to talk about about getting a MHTP referral.