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Anxiety and the Pandemic

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24th Jun 2020

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The last few months have been testing to say the least, so there's no surprise that people may have been experiencing heightened levels of anxiety -  some maybe for the first time. The world is now slowly starting to re-open again, but that doesn't necessarily mean that these feelings of anxiety are just going to miraculously go away.

So what tools can we implement to help us cope? I think firstly it’s important to remember that, however you’re feeling right now, it’s 100% OK. If you need to spend a day in bed watching the entire series of The Tiger King, do it. If you need to get outside and do some exercise, do it. If you need to eat the entire contents of the fridge and then have a dramatic cry, do it.

With this in mind, here are a few techniques that have helped us during this stressful period, and may just help others experiencing the same thing - especially if this is all new to you.

1. Understand your anxiety and think of it as a physical illness

It's important to try and understand why you're feeling the way you're feeling. Try keeping a diary of what you are doing and how you feel at different times to help identify what's affecting you and what you need to take action on. On particularly anxious days, it's easy to get frustrated that you can’t make the feelings just 'go away'. Try thinking of anxiety as you would a common cold and rationalise your response to the symptoms.

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2. Distraction, distraction, distraction

On a particularly bad day, it may feel like you want to wallow in your anxiety and attempt to try and 'fix' it, although sometimes the best way to deal with it is to take your mind off things and distract yourself. Of course, this is easier said than done, but sticking on your favourite TV show or watching some silly TikTok videos is worth a shot. Even if you don’t succeed in distracting yourself completely, it’s often better than sitting trying to rationalise or solve your problems for hours on end. Some people find relaxation, mindfulness, or breathing exercises helpful. Perhaps give the very popular Headspace a try!


3. Talk to someone

We seem to have a big problem with talking about our own mental health. Anxiety is the most common disorder on the planet and yet we rarely discuss it. It may feel that you don't want to burden anyone, or ashamed to admit what's going on, but talking about it is so incredibly important. If you don’t feel quite ready to tell someone you know about your mental health, why not start by talking to someone via a trusted service such as HearMe? The peer emotional support app pairs you with a trained, empathetic listener who can chat to you about how you’re feeling – plus, it’s completely anonymous.

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4. Give yourself permission to take things easy

This one’s quite similar to number one but - sometimes you just need to take the pressure off in all areas of your life. This means simply doing what I need to do to get through the day at work, getting a takeaway so you don’t have to face cooking, picking up a sweet treat on the way home to look forward to later, and most importantly getting rid of any expectations of “productivity”.

Remember that everyone is different, so what works for one person might not work for you. And of course, if you’re struggling to cope with your mental health and your anxiety is beginning to get in the way of your day-to-day life, you should always seek professional help. Anxiety UK and Mind have some great resources you can tap into.