Updated: Mar 25, 2020
I know that the situation at the moment is an incredibly challenging time for those of us with anxiety, particularly if it's regarding our health. Personally, health anxiety is something that I am familiar with so I thought I would share a few things that I’ve found help me manage this during such uncertain times.
Avoid the ‘What if’ mentality
For me, ‘what if’ mentality is at the heart of all my health anxiety. ‘What if I get ill, what if my condition worsens, what if my family are ill and what if we are isolated for a long time; what if what if what if’. Truthfully, these are things we have no control over. This endless speculation and rumination can spiral into a state of panic and helplessness. The chances are, these things will not happen, but whatever does happen is something you have absolutely no control over. When I feel myself ‘what iff’-ing I stop and remind myself that whether I am worrying or not, my situation remains the same. What I can control is how I view it and how I handle it. Stop, breathe, and try out some of these tips below!
Avoid health-related news sights, googling symptoms and scrolling through social media
Social media & endless news content can be anxiety-inducing at the best of times. Throughout this period, we get constantly harassed by different sources and sites that keep us informed with everything and anything that changes, no matter how small. If you wanted to, you could spend hours obsessively scrolling through Covid-content – and believe me, I have! Try your best to limit your screen time and avoid the websites that you know can trigger you. If you really can’t keep away, try and fill your feed with more positive news stories and steer away from sensationalised headlines. For example, try the Guardian’s Upside which takes a more positive approach to current events.
Stay active even though you're at home
It’s so important that you keep your mind and body stimulated during a time of limited social and physical activity. Doing a short physical activity once a day, within the limits of your ability, will help to give you energy and get those endorphins flowing. It could be anything from a home exercise class, some simple breathing and stretching techniques from your bed, taking short walks around your house or even moving to music in your bedroom! Keeping yourself engaged and your body stimulated is crucial to maintaining a healthy mindset and keeping stress to a minimum.
If you find yourself getting overwhelmed – try some mindfulness/Yoga activities
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by health anxieties and uncertainty, try and practice some breathing exercises, mindfulness and even try an online yoga class – there are plenty on Youtube and many of them can be done from the comfort of a chair or bed too! Learning how to manage your anxious thoughts and preventing yourself from overthinking and worrying about the future is incredibly important during a time like this, as we currently have more time to think than ever! One way to do this is to try focusing on one task and nothing else for 3 minutes. Even something as simple as washing up or drawing something. Alternatively, try some mindfulness/meditation exercises -
If you don’t know where to begin, here’s some helpful audio tracks to get you started.
Distract yourself! Get stuck into a binge-worthy box set/write up a list of movies you want to watch, learn a new skill or get stuck into a new book
This one is pretty self-explanatory! There are so many wonderful films and TV shows for you to binge on during this period of self-isolation. Have a look at Netflix’s top 10 shows for inspiration. Or how about learning something new? A language? Cooking? Drawing/painting? Try and get creative! There are so many fun and engaging things you could get stuck into. Alternatively, pick up and immerse yourself into a book. There is nothing more all-consuming than being engrossed in a real page-turner. It’s so important to keep your mind on things that you can be excited about and enjoy – this will help your mind avoid revisiting anxieties or worries.
Keep organised and tidy
It is so important to keep yourself feeling organised & productive. Your bedroom is the place you spend every single night sleeping, and its condition will certainly have an effect on your positive thinking and wellbeing. Try and keep your bedroom as clutter-free, organised and tidy as possible. Maybe it’s the perfect time to organise that closet or clear out some old stuff?. If you find yourself getting sick of your bedroom, find different spaces around your house to work and relax in
And finally – stay connected with yourself and others
Whether you live alone, with friends or with family – try and stay connected to the world as much as you can. Message your friends, talk to your family, or even just aim to do one thing for yourself that you enjoy every day. Coronavirus should not stop you from living your lives, connecting with yourself and your peers. Your illness does not define you now or ever!
If your mental health is suffering because of COVID-19, feel free to get in touch with the BFUK team at firstname.lastname@example.org