As the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) branches across the Australian and global community, it is only natural that the level of anxiety within us all also increases. The declaration of a global pandemic can raise feelings of worry and unease however, it is important that we learn to manage our stress before it turns to more severe anxiety and panic.
An important measure to help stem the wave of infection, is the need to physically distance ourselves from others. Now more than ever it is important that we maintain good social networks using available methods of communication, this can be as simple as phoning a friend, using videoconferencing technology to check in with a family member, or spending quality time with the people you live with. And if your networks are not positive ones – seek support elsewhere.
There are several useful strategies which can help both adults and children cope with the stress and/or anxiety experienced as a result of COVID-19. The below tips come from the Australian Psychological Society:
- Constant information from mainstream coverage or social media about the Coronavirus can keep us in a heightened state of anxiety. Try to limit related media exposure and instead seek out factual information from reliable sources such as the Australian Government’s health alert or other trusted organisations such as the World Health Organisation.
- Keep things in perspective. When we are stressed, it is easy to see things as worse than they really are. Rather than imagining the worst-case scenario and worrying about it, ask yourself ‘Am I getting ahead of myself, assuming something bad will happen when I really don’t know the outcome?’ and ‘Am I underestimating my ability to cope?’ Sometimes thinking about how you would cope, even if the worst were to happen, can help you put things into perspective.
- Do not be afraid to talk about the Coronavirus with children. Given the extensive media coverage and the increasing number of people wearing face masks in public, it is not surprising that some children are already aware of the virus. Providing opportunities to answer their questions in an honest and age-appropriate way can help reduce any anxiety they may be experiencing.
- Explain to your child that it is normal to feel worried about getting sick from the Coronavirus. Listen to your child’s concerns and reassure them that you are there to help them with whatever may arise in the future. It is important to model calmness when discussing the Coronavirus with children and not alarm them with any concerns you may have about it.
- Being proactive by following basic hygiene principles can keep your anxiety at bay. The World Health Organisation recommends a number of protective measures against the coronavirus, including to:
- · wash your hands frequently
- · avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- · stay at home if you begin to feel unwell until you fully recover
- · seek medical care early if you have a fever, cough or experience breathing difficulties
- · maintaining good social connections and communicating openly with family and friends
- · making time for activities and hobbies you enjoy
- · keeping up a healthy lifestyle by eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, getting quality sleep and avoiding the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs to cope with stress
- · practising relaxation, meditation and mindfulness to give your body a chance to settle and readjust to a calm state