The current pandemic has brought lots of worries about our health, family, money and the future. We’re in the midst of a chaotic and uncertain time where many of us might fear what happens next.
Whether we’re on our own or surrounded by friends and family, for most of us, the uncertainty can be very hard to handle. Some of us may have already been affected by COVID-19, others are bracing for what may come and all of us are watching the headlines and wondering, ‘what’s going to happen next?’ At some point we might feel fear and anxiety, it’s natural to think the worst and these thoughts could overwhelm us.
However, before you get too overwhelmed, there’s a lot we can do to collectively help support each other to cope with this unique situation. Here are a few tips to help you along the way.
Talk, talk and talk some more
Fear is crippling and it’s perfectly normal to feel it, especially at the moment. A great way to help overcome fears you might have is to reach out to someone and talk about them, whether they are about money, your health or what you feel your future might hold. It’s always good to talk to people you trust, are calm and may have helped you in the past.
Stay away from fake news
Stick to trustworthy sources of information on COVID-19 such as the government website or The World Health Organisation to find regular and factual updates. Where possible, try and step away from the media if you are feeling overwhelmed.
Make a pact with yourself to stay in touch with friends, colleagues and family. Why not think about arranging regular phone or video calls. Or meet up in person, ensuring you follow social distancing guidelines that are in place. Make a point of talking about things you enjoy and want to do more of when the rules relax and you are able to.
Learn to accept uncertainty
No matter how much we try to avoid or eliminate uncertainty, the truth is we will all have to face an amount of uncertainty in our lives on a regular basis. Try to remind yourself to let go of some of your worries and accept some uncertainty as part of life.
Face your fears
It’s always better to try and face your fear if you can. Consider whether it is a problem you need to confront and is it stopping you from doing something you want to do? Make a list of pros and cons of not facing your fear, then identify tackling them head on. Write down how your life might be different if you can overcome them and what you might achieve.
If you face up to your fears and uncertainty by allowing yourself to feel these emotions, they are likely to eventually pass. You can aid this by concentrating on the present moment and your breathing, allowing yourself to feel and observe the uncertainty you’re experiencing. Take some slow, deep breaths or try meditation to keep your focus anchored in the present.
Reach out and listen
If you’re worried about someone else, genuinely listening to them may encourage them to share their fears with you and help build and maintain trust. Try to encourage them to talk about what is within their control and influence. They may be in denial of the current pandemic and trivialise the situation, they may become withdrawn, angry or upset as a result of the challenges they are facing right now. It’s important to recognise that worry and fear is a normal reaction to the current situation and know what you can do in your capacity to help.
If you or anyone else you know is experiencing more feelings of depression or anxiety than usual, the NHS has some great help and guidance.
The Mental Health Foundation also have a wealth of information on their site dedicated to supporting people overcome fear and anxiety.
You can also call the Samaritans on 116 123 if you need to talk to someone. They provide free emotional support 24 hours a day.