These are uncertain times for us. Anxiety caused by the corona virus is rising daily. The lack of control and power is making some of us feel extremely vulnerable. Emotions are running high. We are worried about ourselves and our loved ones. We all know people who are particularly vulnerable and risk. Our physical health is at risk. But so is our mental health. But we can learn how to minimise the anxiety of the corona virus pandemic.
Fear and Anxiety
The tension is palpable wherever we go. I currently have daily contact with teens who will be sitting GCSE and A Level exams in the summer. Exam preparation is normally stressful enough. But now, their main concern is when, not if, the schools are going to close. And for how long. This anticipation and fear of lack of contact with their teachers is making many of them very anxious. And understandably so. The teachers are equally concerned. For many of us, especially the self employed, the real threat of loss of income is frightening.
What can we do about this?
The first thing to do is to distinguish between what is out of my control and what is within my control. None of us can predict what the authorities will do next. We have an idea or we read rumours in the press. But ultimately: we do not know. We cannot individually control this virus. It is beyond us.
But what we can do is control the way we react to our very confusing world. We have the ability to control our emotions. It is normal that we feel scared, anxious or threatened. But when we allow these emotions to dictate our ongoing response to the world and those around us, we risk heading into a very dark place. We can minimise the potential anxiety caused by the corona virus pandemic.
How do we control these emotions?
- Firstly do not take this personally. Everyone is in the same boat. Every pupil in the country is potentially going to have their exams disrupted. Not just you. Every parent is going to have to face their children being sent home. No-one is aiming this at you as an individual. It is hitting all of us. No matter who we are.
- None of this is your fault. You are not responsible. Yes, you can wash your hands, isolate yourself and do whatever else we are told will help minimise the pace of the infections. You can take responsibility for that. But if you or a loved one contract the illness, it is no-ones fault.
- The threat of isolation or lock-down is a real worry for some of us. Isolation from others can lead to mental health problems like depression. But we can mitigate this by making sure that we do keep in contact with others as much as possible. Speak on the phone rather than text. Use Skype and Facetime more. Create groups on your social media and communicate. Platforms like Zoom allow you to have meetings with a crowd of people where you can see and hear each other. We are all in this together. None of us should feel alone. But always try to talk about things other than the virus. Don’t allow yourselves to ruminate endlessly.
- If you find you do get stuck at home, find something meaningful to do. Possibly learn a new skill. Or see what free online courses you could do in your own time. But see if you can turn this rather negative time into something positive. No matter how small.
- Sit tight. This will not last forever. We do not know how long before life returns to normal. But it will. And that point, we can allow ourselves to look back and learn.
But for now, look after yourself and those around you by staying as calm as you can. And if you need to, get some help and guidance.