It’s difficult to avoid news about COVID-19 (Coronavirus), and constant updates about cases in Ireland and abroad have left many people feeling anxious.
Being told to stay inside, reduce contact with other people, and seeing shops and businesses close can be scary. You may find yourself worrying about yourself or family members who might be at risk. You are not alone in feeling this way, but there are things you can do.
How to deal with anxiety around COVID-19
Here are some steps you can take to reduce stress and anxiety:
Learn the facts about COVID-19
Understanding what COVID-19 is, how it is spread, and what you can do to prevent it can help to ease your fears. There’s a lot of misinformation making its way around social media and private message groups, which can cause confusion around what’s actually going on.
If you receive messages or images claiming to uncover the ‘truth’ about COVID-19, or offering advice that is different to what public health officials like the HSE have been saying, do not send it to other people. Instead, take a look at the messages that official HSE accounts are putting out and share those instead.
Read about fake news and how to recognise it.
It’s good to be aware that most GPs will require you to make an appointment over the phone if you need to see them for any reason at the moment.
There are a number of things you can do to help prevent the spread of the virus.
- Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself against COVID-19
- Continue to follow the latest public health guidance
- Wash your hands properly with soap and regularly
- If you cannot wash your hands, use hand sanitiser wherever it is available, and wash your hands fully as soon as you can, particularly after being in public places or on public transport
- Wear a face mask in shops, on public transport, and in other crowded places where it is not possible to social distance
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough and sneeze
- Put used tissues into a bin immediately after use and wash your hands
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
- Follow the travel advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs
- Try to avoid touching your eyes nose and mouth
Following this advice can help to significantly decrease your risk of catching and spreading the virus. It helps to remind yourself you are doing everything you can if you begin to worry about the virus.
Find ways to relax
It’s important to take time to look after yourself if you are experiencing a lot of stress and anxiety around COVID-19. Take time to do some self care by doing things you enjoy or find relaxing, or download a meditation app, try some mindfulness, or do some breathing exercises. A calming breathing exercise is to count to seven while you are breathing in and to eleven while you are breathing out, and repeat a few times.
If you have been told to stay home from school, college or work, or you have to self-isolate, it will be especially important that you try to relax during this time.
Read more about simple meditation exercises you can do for free or try our five minute mindful meditation video.
It can be difficult to feel like you have no control over a situation. Hearing news that the virus is spreading or being told that you can’t go to school or to work can make you feel like you’ve lost control. Making the choice to do something – even if it’s just tidying up, doing some yoga at home, or watching something on TV – can help us to take back some of our sense of control.
If you find yourself at home, try your best to adapt your routine to your new situation. Make sure to eat well, get some exercise, and check in with how you’re feeling.
Avoid checking for updates
With updates on COVID-19 all over the social media and the news, it can be hard to avoid hearing about it. However, try your best to avoid checking in regularly for updates – taking a look at the beginning or end of the day is fine so that you can keep yourself informed, but try not to allow news about the virus to be on your mind for the entire day.
Talk to someone
Sharing how you feel can be a great relief, so open up to someone about what’s going on. Talk to family, friends, or someone in school, work or college. If there are lots of conversations happening about COVID-19, let people know that it makes you anxious, and ask if you can talk about something else instead.
If you are struggling to control your stress or anxiety, consider seeing a counsellor who can help you to find a way to cope with these feelings.
Remember to be kind to others during this time, and ask how your friends and family are feeling too. Many people will be feeling anxious, so this is an opportunity to support each other.
Feeling overwhelmed or want to talk to someone right now?
- Get anonymous support 24/7 with our text message support service
- Connect with a trained volunteer who will listen to you, and help you to move forward feeling better
- Text SPUNOUT to 50808 to begin
- Find out more about our text message support service
If you are a customer of the 48 or An Post network or cannot get through using the ‘50808’ short code please text HELLO to 086 1800 280 (standard message rates may apply). Some smaller networks do not support short codes like ‘50808’.