Coronavirus: How to protect your mental health
Coronavirus has plunged the world into uncertainty and the constant news about the pandemic can feel relentless. All of this is taking its toll on people’s mental health, particularly those already living with conditions like anxiety and OCD. So how can we protect our mental health?
Being concerned about the news is understandable, but for many people it can make existing mental health problems worse.
When the World Health Organization released advice on protecting your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak, it was welcomed on social media.
As Anxiety UK’s Nicky Lidbetter explains, the fear of being out of control and unable to tolerate uncertainty are common characteristics of many anxiety disorders. So it’s understandable that many individuals with pre-existing anxiety are facing challenges at the moment.
“A lot of anxiety is rooted in worrying about the unknown and waiting for something to happen – coronavirus is that on a macro scale,” agrees Rosie Weatherley, spokesperson for mental health charity Mind.
So how can we protect our mental health?
Limit the news and be careful what you read
Reading lots of news about coronavirus has led to panic attacks for Nick, a father-of-two from Kent, who lives with anxiety.
“When I’m feeling anxious my thoughts can spiral out of control and I start thinking about catastrophic outcomes,” he says. Nick is worried about his parents and other older people he knows.
“Usually when I suffer I can walk away from a situation. This is out of my control,” he says.
Having long periods away from news websites and social media has helped him to manage his anxiety. He has also found support helplines, run by mental health charities such as AnxietyUK, useful.
- Limit the amount of time you spend reading or watching things which aren’t making you feel better. Perhaps decide on a specific time to check in with the news
- There is a lot of misinformation swirling around – stay informed by sticking to trusted sources of information such as government and NHS websites