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As we are all currently experiencing changes to our family and working lives that are unprecedented to most people, many of us may be feeling more anxious or worried. For some people this will be a new experience but for many who already have feelings of anxiety – either related to their own health or for the people they care for – their feelings are likely to be heightened.
Here are some tips for managing heightened anxiety based on the 5 Ways to Wellbeing (Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Learn and Give):
• Restrict exposure to news regarding the virus. Make sure you only look at information on-line from trustworthy sources such as the NHS and WHO (World Health Organisation) or listen to updates direct from the Government. In this way you are an active participant in assessing information – rather than being overwhelmed by ‘scary’ or unfounded opinions of others.
• Reassure yourself that it is totally acceptable at the moment to be worried about what we are hearing in the news or reading in newspapers. Worrying over the fact you are worried will only make your anxiety worse.
• Feel in control of the situation by following all the advice from the Government, WHO and NHS to keep yourself safe and in doing so, protect those you care for. Do what is right for you and be confident you are acting responsibly.
• If you find yourself preoccupied with thoughts about the virus try to distract your mind by focusing on other things that are going on around you. Such as the birds in your garden, hearing children laugh while they play or the spring flowers growing in clusters and new buds on the trees.
• Keep connected with people who matter to you. We may not be able to visit or socialise as we are used to but there are many other ways of staying connected. Call a friend for a chat, send an email, text message – or even a letter, talk to your neighbours from your garden or set up video chats on-line.
• Take some form of exercise – this helps to maintain or increase the Serotonin (‘happy chemical’) levels in our brain which helps our mood to stabilise. Make sure you follow the ‘keep a safe distance guidelines if you go out, but exercise can also be done inside.
• Learn something new – with any extra time on our hands at home why not learn a new skill, take up a craft or gain a new qualification. We can do this by watching on-line videos, reading a book or signing up to a short on-line training course.
• Giving some of our time to others (no matter how short) can enable feelings of self-worth and increase our self-esteem. If you are going shopping for yourself maybe you could offer to pick something up for a friend – making sure you leave it outside their door for them to collect. Or maybe you could pop a note through a door just to say hello to let someone know you have thought of them.
• Keep up your daily routine as much as possible. Following routines can be reassuring and give a sense of order to what can be unsettling changes in our daily lives. So if you are self-isolating at home still get up at your usual time, make your bed, have breakfast etc. Doing things as a matter of routine can help us to keep calm. Write a list of things to do so you can tick them off throughout the day.
• Most importantly – if you become aware of a detrimental decline in your own or others emotional and physical health, seek advice from medical professionals according to the instructions from the Government and NHS.
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