Even if you are not typically an anxious person, it's common to feel some anxiety during periods of change or uncertainty. This anxiety is what our body does to try and avoid any danger to keep ourselves safe.
If you’re feeling anxious or worried during this time, you’re not alone. Anxiety is normal, and in some cases it can be helpful. For example, research during past pandemics show that people who worry are more likely to do the things that help to keep the virus at bay, like frequent hand washing and staying at home.
However, sometimes anxiety can be unhelpful which is very common. Here are some top tips from the Blackdog Institute on how we can best manage ourselves during this stressful and uncertain time. We are all in this together 🧡
1. Channel your anxious energy into action: get informed, plan, and prepare
We often feel anxious when events feel out of our control, and when we think we don’t have the capacity, skills or ability to cope. Anxiety tricks us into thinking about the worst-case scenarios in vivid and frightening detail.
Instead of worrying, try your best to focus on what’s under your control. Equip yourself with the facts about COVID-19 from trusted sources. Follow government advice and plan about what you and your family will do if you need to be in isolation, or quarantine.
Its also a good time to plan how you are going to manage your studies. This could be a great time to chat with your mentor and create a plan on completing as many questions in your qualification as possible. This time inside can be used to your advantage in getting steps ahead to reaching the finish line.
2. Limit or avoid unhelpful media and misinformation
Being exposed to constant, alarming, anxiety-inducing stories convinces us that there is something to panic about, and further perpetuates myths, rumours, misinformation, uncertainty and anxiety. The more we read and hear about it, the more frightening it becomes, and the less chance we have to distract ourselves and do things that can take our minds off it.
Although it might be tempting to keep informed, or difficult to escape, limiting your exposure to media, news, and social media about coronavirus will help quell the panic.
Rather use this time to research about more in your studies and read information that is going to reignite you instead of drain you.
3. Cut down or stop the behaviours that are fuelling your anxiety
There are certain actions, when performed frequently, that can fuel anxiety about health, and germ-phobia. Focusing too much on bodily symptoms, and relying on "Dr Google", can consume one with anxious thoughts and panic.
Being aware of these behaviours, understanding how they’re making you feel, and replacing them with more helpful coping strategies can alleviate disproportionate feelings of anxiety.
If in doubt, chat to a close friend or relative about how you are feeling so that you can bounce ideas off each other and not keep it all in.
4. Stay focused on the here and now, taking each day step by step
Try to focus on the here and now- not the past and not the future. Live in the moment and take one day at a time.
5. Be aware of negative thoughts and don’t give them too much power
Just because we’re thinking something, doesn’t always mean it’s true. When you notice yourself worrying a lot, take a step back, and try to let worries pass by without focusing on them too much.
Again, this could be a good time to chat to your mentor or a close person to see how you can reframe those thoughts and get as much support as you need.
6. Look after your body
Get enough sleep, exercise, eat well, avoid smoking, excessive alcohol and drugs. This will help protect your mental health and immune system.
7. Stay connected with others
It can make a huge difference when we share our worries with others and connect with other people who are supportive. Try to stay connected to supportive people in your life so you feel less isolated and lonely. You might need try new ways of connecting that you haven’t before.
If you are already studying with us, your mentor is always there to support when you need.
8. Help other people, be kind, and compassionate
When we help other people, it can also make us feel better. We are all in this together so let’s try our best to be kind and compassionate to each other. Ask your mentor to share ways that can help you connect with other students. This is always a great idea to connect with people in the same situation as you.
9. Take a breath
When you feel overwhelmed take a few slow, deep breaths to help you calm down. If there are other things that help you relax (e.g., a walk or listening to music) you could try these too. A great breath technique you can in minutes to help calm your nervous system:
- 1) Get comfortable. You can lie on your back in bed or on the floor with a pillow under your head and knees. Or you can sit in a chair with your shoulders, head, and neck supported against the back of the chair.
- 2) Breathe in through your nose. Let your belly fill with air.
- 3) Breathe out through your nose.
- 4) Place one hand on your belly. Place the other hand on your chest.
- 5) As you breathe in, feel your belly rise. As you breathe out, feel your belly lower. The hand on your belly should move more than the one that's on your chest.
- 6) Take three more full, deep breaths. Breathe fully into your belly as it rises and falls with your breath.
- 7) When breathing out, think of all the tension, stress and stale air releasing from your body.
- 8) Do this as many times in the day as needed.
10. If you’re feeling like you’re not coping, get professional advice
It’s ok to ask for help. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by anxiety, seek professional support. Psychological therapies can be done online, or remotely via phone or videoconferencing, and are an excellent option if you’re in self-isolation, or worried about going to a clinic. You can also talk to a doctor for more information about a mental health care plan.
This is also where our mentors at MCI comes in. They can refer to our inhouse wellness and support mentor who is available for phone sessions.
Here at MCI we want to assure you that for most people, the anxiety will be temporary, and will reduce over time, especially once the virus has been contained.
In the meantime, we are here to support you in every way so reach out to us for any further information or questions!