7 tips for managing COVID-related stress
Is COVID-related stress taking over your life? You’re probably not alone if you feel like this. Member of The Midlife Hub, WhiteCalm examines the reasons for coronavirus’s impact on our everyday lives and what we can do to curb anxiety.
Stress is often worn as a badge of honour in the modern world; a sign of how hard we work and how productive we must be. But while pressure can be positive in tackling deadlines and staying motivated, it can also make our cortisone levels rocket, causing sickness, panic, depression, and profound anxiety when experienced over a sustained period.
Whether or not you’re naturally prone to anxiety or stress, the chances are that by now, you’ll be one of the millions of people around the world struggling to cope with the long-term fallout of Covid-19. The prospect of being separated from loved ones for the foreseeable future, losing your income, continually working from home in challenging conditions, potentially infecting others, or being directly infected can have far-reaching consequences.While feeling anxious in response to a threat is a perfectly normal human reaction, chronically high anxiety levels compromise our psychological resources in times of crisis.
Those already suffering from anxiety and related disorders are particularly likely to endure increased *psychological and physiological difficulties during the coronavirus crisis.Since March 2020, and as governments have introduced new measures – such as quarantine and regional lockdowns – there has been a surge in cases of reported loneliness, alienation, depression, harmful alcohol and drug use, and self-harm or suicidal behaviour.
BBC News Health Reporter Philippa Roxby outlines that anxiety triggers, termed as ‘coronanxiety’ by the charity Anxiety UK have generated a considerable rise in calls to the charity’s helpline since lockdown rules were relaxed. Add to this the fact that many are not seeking help for fear that their GP may be unavailable, and it’s clear that the mental health implications look serious.
Meanwhile, the UK’s Office for National Statistics’ data shows that people who “often or always” felt lonely are almost five times more likely to report high anxiety than those who “never” feel lonely.
So, what do we do to manage our stress?
If we can’t control the big picture, then we need to forge coping strategies while we sit it out and accept uncertainty. Be it dealing with a lack of social interaction, bleak headlines, relationship issues, or worrying about the future in general, there are solutions.
Sometimes a friendly ear, time to switch off, finding solace in nature, music, literature, or a new interest is the kickstart we need.
However, if stress runs deep and affects sleep, eating habits and heightened emotions, such as anger or resentment, there are targeted, tailor-made approaches to help tackle these stress-related problems. Aside from precise therapeutic tools offered by trained specialists and doctors, there are things we can do to help ourselves. These include:
1. Accept what you cannot control for the time being. Seeing only the things over which you have no control can only frustrate and exhaust you. Focus your energies on more positive goals. Remember, if you can’t change reality, you can change the way you react to it.
2. Don’t lose sight of the big picture. It is easy to get so caught up in the details of an event that it ends up losing all proportion. There is always a future beyond the present. Take ownership of the future while the present unfolds.
3. Embrace change, if that is what it takes. Explore the idea of retraining towards a different professional occupation or introduce small windows of time (maybe getting up a little earlier) for reading, yoga, meditation, research, or exercise, to allow for headspace and plans. Small steps will inspire you as you try to picture what you would like over the next year. Set achievable short- to mid-term goals, without putting yourself under undue pressure.
4. Reduce alcohol and tobacco intake to alleviate immediate physical issues.
5. Find someone qualified to guide you. Talk to someone you trust, even if you can’t see them in person.
6. Remember, all things evolve and bring new opportunities you may never have considered, so keep this in mind remember that many people are feeling the same way right now.
7. Dont suffer in silence. “If you feel unwell, you can still get treatment during the pandemic,” says Dr Billy Boland, from the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
“The world is what you think of it, so think of it differently, and your life will change.”
Paul Arden, self-help author and a creative director of the ad agency, Saatchi & Saatchi.
More about WhiteCalm
If you need practical help right now for your stress and anxiety, WhiteCalm, are here to help you devise the best wellbeing strategy to tackle your COVID-related stress together.
WhiteCalm are offering a free two-week trial of their virtual platform to trial their stress reduction programme.