Coping with anxiety and worry caused by COVID-19
These uncertain times are affecting everyone around the world. Now, more than ever, it is important to manage your mental health and wellbeing, particularly if you are feeling worried or anxious.
With the possibility of the borders opening soon, many people are excited to be reunited with family and friends they haven’t seen since before COVID-19 began. However, for some people, the prospect of borders opening might be creating some worry.
Here are a few tips to help you manage your worries during times of uncertainty.
Ways to look after yourself
First things first: keep things in perspective
When we are stressed, our brains sometimes make things seem worse than they really are. There is so much information around about COVID-19 so it’s natural to feel overwhelmed. This is why it’s so important to find good quality information from credible and reliable sources, such as official Western Australian advice.
Even when we only get our information from credible sources the news itself can cause fear and alarm when things change suddenly. Taking time for self-care can increase your ability to manage changes. It can also help to take some time away from the news when it is getting overwhelming and only check in when you need to.
Take reasonable precautions
Another good way to keep anxiety (and the virus) at bay is by being proactive and following these basic hygiene principles:
- Wash your hands often (and for as long as it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice).
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
- If you begin to feel unwell, stay at home (self-isolate) until you recover.
- Seek medical help early if you have a fever, cough or experience breathing difficulties.
Visit the Healthy WA website for information about how to seek help if you have COVID-19-like symptoms.
Looking after yourself will help encourage a positive frame of mind. And whilst different people have different ways of practising self-care, here are a few examples you may find useful:
- Keep up your connections with family and friends. If you can’t pop round to see them, schedule in a quick telephone or video call (such as FaceTime, Facebook messenger, Zoom or Skype).
- Keep up a healthy lifestyle. Eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and get quality sleep.
- Limit your use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. You may feel like using alcohol, tobacco or other drugs helps when you feel stressed or anxious but in reality it's likely to make you feel worse.
- Keep yourself occupied. Make time for all those activities and hobbies you enjoy - it could be a movie marathon, cooking, getting stuck into a book or planting some veggies.
- Keep calm. Practise things like relaxation and meditation to give your body a chance to settle and readjust to a calm state. For tips on how to do this, see here.
Ways to help older adults who may appear worried or anxious
Older adults, especially those who need to isolate, or those with dementia, may become more anxious, angry or withdrawn because of the impacts of COVID-19.
Giving them practical and emotional support can go a long way toward getting them through this tough time, where information is constantly changing.
You can start by sharing simple facts about what is going on and giving clear information about how they can reduce their risk of infection – use official advice to help guide you. Remember to always give instructions in a respectful and patient way, and to repeat the information whenever necessary. Displaying the instructions in words or pictures may also be helpful.
Other family members and/or support networks may also be able to help older adults to practice virus protection methods, such as encouraging them to frequently wash their hands for the correct length of time.
It’s important we all do our bit to help older members in our communities stay healthy and safe during times like this. It’s important we make the effort to stay connected to them by regular telephone or video calls, and visits where possible.
If you have an underlying health condition
Firstly, make sure you have access to up to two weeks’ worth of any medications you are currently using. If necessary, get in touch with friends or family to help you with this, or talk to your pharmacist by phone to see if they can deliver your medications to you or if there are alternative ways to provide them with a script without the need to go in to the pharmacy.
Next, know in advance where and how to get any practical help you may need, such as calling a taxi, having food delivered or requesting medical care.
Learning simple daily exercises will help you maintain mobility. Equally, regular routines such as cleaning, daily chores, being creative (e.g. painting or drawing), or doing a crossword can all help in reducing any boredom that may set in.
Of course, always be sure to keep in regular contacts with family and friends via the phone, email, social media or video calls.
Content last updated: 06 December 2021