This year has been quite a rollercoaster so far with severe storms, bush fires in Australia, and now, with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re facing unprecedented measures to minimise the impact of the virus.
It’s fair to say that pretty much everyone will be affected by the restrictions that are being put in place. A recent survey by Student Hut suggests that over 50% of students are more concerned about missing out on their education than they are about their health.
During these anxious and uncertain times, we’ve pulled together some advice to reduce anxiety and maintain your wellbeing. Whether you’re worried about the impact on your studies and exams, concerned for your health or your family’s health, or are anxious about isolation, we hope these tips will help!
1. Take each day as it comes
We know it’s easy to say but try not to think too much about what may (or may not) happen. Work with whatever information you have at the time and try and keep as close to your normal routine. If you’re home from school or college, keeping to a timetable with study and break times will help maintain a sense of routine.
AnxietyUK suggests using the APPLE technique when you start to feel anxious:
Acknowledge – Notice and acknowledge the uncertainty as it comes to mind.
Pause – Don’t react as you normally do. Don’t react at all. Just pause and breath.
Pull back – Tell yourself this is just the worry talking, and this apparent need for certainty is not helpful and not necessary. It is only a thought or feeling. Don’t believe everything you think. Thoughts are not statements of facts.
Let go – Let go of the thought or feeling. It will pass. You don’t have to respond to them. You might imagine them floating away in a bubble or cloud.
Explore – Explore the present moment. Notice your breathing and the sensations of your breathing. Notice the ground beneath you. Look around and notice what you see, what you hear, what you can touch, what you can smell. Right now. Then shift your focus of attention to something else – on what you need to do, on what you were doing before you noticed the worry or do something else – mindfully with your full attention.
2. Limit the amount of social media news you consume
As they say, “Don’t believe everything you say on Facebook” (or social media). If you’re receiving 30 updates a day from a variety of channels, it is likely to fry your brain and can trigger anxiety. By restricting your news consumption to a limited amount day from a trusted source (e.g. The Government website, NHS website or BBC news), and by muting topics that trigger you on social media or Whatsapp groups, you can reduce the triggers. Spend time doing something that brings you joy instead – like reading, or gaming.
3. Connect with friends and family
Whilst you may not be spending as much time with friends and family as you like, you don’t need to cut contact completely. You may be restricted with where you can go, and who you can see – but there are lots of ways you can connect virtually. Make arrangements to speak to and video chat friends and loved ones regularly – and, with some providers offer group chat services, why not have a virtual party! If you have friends, neighbours or family, why not help them by fetching supplies or by keeping in touch to boost their morale – it will boost your sense of wellbeing too.
4. Get fresh air and exercise
Whether it’s getting out for a walk in the countryside with your dog, playing Just Dance, or getting out to do some gardening. Planning some time to take exercise and get outdoors will not only break the boredom, but it should also give you a boost.
5. Use online resources and support
Mental Health charities such as Young Minds, Mind and AnxietyUK offer a range of online resources and support guides for managing wellbeing. In addition to this these sites offer telephone or chat support. Details about getting urgent help and support for a mental health crisis can be found on the NHS Every Mind Matters site.