Managing stress and anxiety during lockdown
Anxiety and stress can affect people in different ways and it can be triggered by a huge variety of situations - ill health, loss of work, relationships and external news and global events. Right now, we citizens of the world are united in being affected by a global pandemic, with very few nations having avoided being impacted by the virus. It's no surprise then, that stress and anxiety levels have been rising across the world and, since the outbreak of the Coronavirus, 84.9% of adults have reported that they've felt anxious as a direct result of the pandemic.
Why do we suffer from anxiety at times like this?
It boils down to lack of control and uncertainty over events and situations in our lives. The human brain simply isn’t wired to tolerate uncertainty or unknown scenarios. It is, however, very good at staying alert to potential threats - and this alertness uses a lot of energy.
We're constantly making judgements and updates on what is safe and what is not about the world around us - that's natural. But, in times like these, when the threat (Covid, or its impact on our daily lives) is unseen or unknown, then our brains struggle to adjust to keep us safe, so it assumes the worst and as a consequence it brings on a natural state of stress and anxiety.
How do we manage this anxiety?
It's all but impossible to stop our brains from reacting to unknown situations in this way (and in fact it's avery useful, natural response that does keep us safe). However, we can control how we respond and manage our lives when we enter this state of 'fight or flight'.
Now more than ever, it's important to find some practical solutions to managing your anxiety and adopting some simple steps like these will help to improve your overall emotional and physical wellbeing:
- Accept your feelings. Rather than trying to change your feelings with action, try becoming comfortable with them. Try writing your thoughts down on a notepad. Often the process of writing allows them you to feel like you've passed those difficult feelings on and it can help you to understand and manage them more clearly.;
- Focus on the things you CAN control and ignore the rest. Now is not the time to dwell on things you can't control - you might be desperately dreaming of going on a great holiday, or of visiting family or even of scheduling in some elective surgery or medical treatment. When you can't change the 'bad' things, it's time to focus on changing the and improving the 'good'. Take control of a few small things in your everyday life - healthy meal planning, exercise, reading or creating. Establish routines to give your days and weeks some comforting structure.
- Reach out for support. In times like these it's a good bet that the anxiety and fear you are feeling is being shared by many friends, family and neighbours around you. It's normal to feel worried, scared or helpless during uncertain times, and in a global pandemic we can take some comfort, perhaps, in knowing that we're not alone in our concerns. As with all forms of mental health concerns, it is ALWAYS OK to share your concerns with others you trust – and doing so may help them too. If you cannot speak to someone you know or if doing so has not helped, there are plenty of helplines you can try instead.
Need more support? We're always here to help.
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