Coronavirus: How to Protect Your Mental Health

The coronavirus struck us all unexpectedly causing panic and chaos among people. Everyone is trying to find something online that would help him in going through this crisis. But, this need to know more can make us even more confused and thus affect our mental health, and this could be devastating for the people who are already struggling with anxiety and OCD.

Here it is what this certified expert says about this:

Doreen Marshall, Ph.D.:

We are hard-wired to want to know what is happening when and to notice things that feel threatening to us.  When things feel uncertain or when we don’t generally feel safe, it’s normal to feel stressed.  This very reaction, while there to protect us, can cause all sorts of havoc when there is a sense of uncertainty and conflicting information around us.”

The World Health Organization is well aware of the great impact the coronovirus can have on our mental health and as a result of that people received online advice on how to protect their mental health.

The UK anxiety expert Nicky Lidbetter maintains that in these times it is normal for people struggling with pre-existing anxiety to find these times hard, as the common characteristics of many anxiety disorders are the fear of being out of control and unable to tolerate uncertainty.

The spokesperson for mental health charity Mind, Rosie Weatherley, also agrees with Lidbetter, stating that “a lot of anxiety is rooted in worrying about the unknown and waiting for something to happen.”

Hence, the question pops up, how to protect our mental health in these difficult times?

These tips have been comprised by many experts and this is what they recommend:

    • At the moment there is plenty of information online, but be selective and trust only certified sources of information like the government and NHS websites. You should limit the time you spend reading or watching things since it can contribute to having panic attacks. Choose the time when you will read the daily news and by all means do not succumb to rumor and speculation as that will only fuel up anxiety and moreover the received information might not be true.

    • This is the time when you are not supposed to be on social media all the time, make a break of it during the day by putting all your devices on mute. During these breaks you can try something that relaxes you like listening to music or reading a book. Try not to scroll the Feed to find new articles on the coronavirus.

    • The highest protective measure that WHO recommends is frequent washing of the hands. For OCD patients and some that struggle with anxiety this is a great challenge as it can be a trigger point for the ones who have recovered from this condition. It goes without saying that you need to wash your hands but do not overdo it.

  • This is the time when we must be isolated at our homes to get through this pandemic quickly and harmlessly, but we must stay connected with other people as we are human beings that especially while stress need support and company.

  • Consume healthy foods, exercise, keep your body hydrated, and although we need to hide in our homes we still need to expose our body to the sunlight and nature whenever we can.

Aside the tips, you can also apply a technique, recognized as “APPLE” developed by Anxiety UK that can be of great help in dealing with worries and anxiety:

The “APPLE” Technique

  1. Acknowledge the uncertainty once it comes to mind.

  1. Pause, make a pause, breathe deeply, and don’t react.

  1. Pull back by telling yourself that it is just a thought or feeling, it is not a fact.

  1. Let go the negative thought or feeling, without responding to it, and it will go away.

  1. Explore the present moment, and see that everything is ok now. Try to shift your focus by looking around, noticing what you see and hear, and what you can touch and smell.

Regarding the situation in which we are all currently, the author and motivational speaker Anthony Brinkley says:

All the time, I’ll say crisis simply reveals your foundation. It could be your faith. It could be your family, altruistic things you do to help other people. Hey look, we got this, we are a great community so don’t let fear just keep you and cripple you.”