These are uncertain times for adults, teenagers and children. They may be all be impacted by fear and anxiety and it is a normal reaction to uncertainty and things that may harm us. For many of us, the coronavirus and the COVID-19 illness make for a very uncertain future. People worry about their own health and the health of their loved ones, here and abroad. People may also have a lot of concerns around school or work, their finances, their ability to take part in important community and social events and hobbies, and other important parts of their lives. People who already experience a lot of anxiety may find their anxiety worsening.
While anxiety is a normal and expected reaction to the pandemic, too much anxiety can start to cause harm. Feeling stressed and fearful every day takes a toll on health and well-being very quickly. When anxiety and fear lead to panic, people may also take precautions that ultimately cause disruptions, like demanding a lot of tests or medical care when it is not necessary or even stockpiling certain supplies to the point that those supplies are not available to people who are sick and need those items. Anxiety can also cause the opposite reaction: denial which is unhelpful as one refuses to believe that the situation is serious. When people deny the severity of a situation in order to avoid anxiety, they may do nothing, even ignoring recommendations from health authorities.
When you feel anxious and uncertain about the future, it is easy to feel hopeless. Coronavirus and the COVID-19 illness may seem out of your control, but that is not entirely true. It is important to be kind to yourself. This is an anxious and stressful time for everyone, and it is okay if you feel more anxious than usual, and it is okay to take time for yourself to manage your mental health.
You are doing the best you can in a time when simply turning on the news can feel overwhelming. You can use that concern to take positive and protective actions—things like practicing good hygiene, staying home when you feel sick.
Tips To Manage Wellbeing During COVID-19
Take Care Of Yourself
Eat healthy, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, and make time for indoor hobbies.
Isolating yourself from others, such as staying home from school or working from home for longer periods of time, can affect your mood. Find ways to connect with people you care about in other ways. If you can't see someone in person, you can still reach out by phone, text, or video call.
Help Others If You Can
Giving to others in times of need not only helps the recipient, it enhances your wellbeing too. Never underestimate the power you have to offer hope to a person. Ask yourself if there is a way to help others around you. Some people who are more vulnerable to coronavirus and the COVID-19 illness may have to take extra precautions or isolate themselves more than the others. Ask friends, family members or neighbours if they need anything, such as groceries or other household needs. Simply checking in regularly by phone, text, or video call can make a big difference. Helping others also includes being mindful of the supplies you keep at home. Excessive stockpiling means that your neighbours and other community members no longer have access to those supplies, and it increases costs.
Take In Only The Necessary
It is important to be informed, but constantly checking for updates or reading sensationalized stories can really take a toll on your mental health. Stick to trusted, verified news sources and limit yourself if social media or news stories increase your anxiety.
Lend Your Ears For A Fixed Period
Some people find it helpful to talk through anxiety-provoking situations like coronavirus and the COVID-19 illness, but others may find that conversations make their anxiety worse. If you need to limit conversations, it is okay to tell family, friends, and co-workers that you can't participate. Just make sure you don't ignore all news and important messages—the goal is to take in the information you need and cut down on the excess, not ignore the situation altogether.
Practice Self-Care Activities
Activities like art, yoga, or exercise help increase mental health, make sure you have supplies or equipment on hand. If you live alone, consider a plan to check in regularly (just not face-to-face) with a friend, family member, or neighbour.
Try to see this time as unique and different, not necessarily bad, even if it is something you didn’t necessarily choose. Try to see this as a new and unusual period that might even have some benefits.
Stay Connected With Your Values
Don’t let fear or anxiety drive your interactions with others. Remember that we are all in this together and that it is important to help each other without discrimination, blame and stigma stopping us.
create a routine that prioritises things you enjoy and even things you have been meaning to do but haven’t had enough time. Read that book, watch that show, take up that new hobby.
Limit Your Exposure To News And Media
Perhaps choose specific times of day when you will get updates, and ensure they are from reputable and reliable sources.
It’s important for people to get creative with how they interact, here are some ways:
Set Up A Gratitude Tree
Every member should post a message or send a text to other members to share something, they are grateful for.
Find A Buddy, Or Group Of, To Set Daily Challenges With
These could include a healthy habit, a mindful practice or even a creative pursuit. Be sure to encourage and check-in daily to stay motivated.
Set Dates And Times To Watch The Same TV Shows/Movies
Set dates to watch the same shows with someone and message each other your thoughts along the way.
Here are some tips on how to ensure your children are supported during this period
- Teach children everyday actions to reduce the spread of germs, like handwashing, sanitizing and cleaning surfaces.
- Remind children that family members, teachers, and others care for them and are there to keep them safe and healthy. Health care professionals, the state and central government are also working hard to prevent the spread of this disease.
- Ask children what they already know or if they have any questions. Offer age-appropriate information based on their responses. Every child is different and it’s important to tailor your conversation to your child’s developmental level and needs.
- Listen to children’s fears and concerns. Offer empathy and understanding, but also help them realistically reframe their fears.
- Show compassion and empathy for those impacted by the virus. Avoid making negative or stereotypical comments about others, such as blaming a group of people.
- Maintain your typical routines as much as possible. Rituals like bedtime stories or after dinner games anchor children in normalcy. Intentionally build emotional connections through play, music, art, conversation, and time in nature.
- Limit television and social media coverage. Repeated media exposure causes anxiety in children (and adults). Get the facts from a credible news source and then turn the news off. Tell children that the information they get from others or the internet might not always be reliable. Ask them to come to you instead.
- Include your children in plans and activities around the house
- Ms. Sneha George works as a Counselling Psychologist, Fortis Malar Hospital