The outbreak of COVID-19 has had a huge impact on all our lives. There are times when we may find ourselves worried about our health, family, job security, money and our future. Fear and anxiety can be overwhelming and cause us to experience strong and mixed emotions.
Emotions are bursts of brain activity that alter our mood. Everyone displays their emotions differently, for example anger can be expressed in the following ways:
- Physical responses: such as sweating or your face turning red
- Aggressive behaviours: such as hitting, kicking or throwing objects
- Facial expressions: such as frowning or glaring
- Body language: such as taking a strong stance or turning away
- Tone of voice: such as shouting or yelling
Emotions are both good and bad for us, the important thing is learning to control them. If we let them become too negative, they can harm both our physical and mental wellbeing.
The more our brain dwells on the negative aspects of a situation, the more we experience negative emotions making it harder to think calmly and rationally.
Here are a few ideas to help you take control of your emotions:
Recognise that your worries are often just thoughts, not reality
It’s important to know that your thoughts are not facts – thoughts are simply thoughts.1 Try not to take your negative thoughts so seriously, and learn not to treat your mind as a trustworthy source of information, especially about things that make you feel anxious or stressed.
Do your best to understand the facts of a situation and you’ll soon find yourself becoming calmer as your brain processes the information.
Give yourself a break
When we find ourselves in an emotional state, we can do and say things we may regret. Taking yourself away from the situation for a short period of time can help. For example, if you find yourself getting emotional with a colleague at work, loved one or friend, take a deep breath and say, “I think it’s a good idea for us to talk, I have to do something first but let’s sit down together and talk in 10 minutes” giving your brain time to relax before you respond.
Exercising is widely known to be good for your mental health, and this is because it releases endorphins – a natural pain and stress reliever.2 Regular exercise also helps to reduce your body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline.
Talk to trusted colleagues and friends
At this difficult time there are many things to cause anxiety. However, it’s important to find a way of putting these worries into perspective. Talking through your concerns with a trusted friend or colleague, along with exploring different ways to address your worries, can often help. Just being listened to can help you feel supported and less alone.
Support is there if you need it
If you don’t have someone to talk to, you can find support through mental health charities, groups and helplines. The NHS website provides access to a variety of organisations offering expert advice. Also, check if your employer has an Employee Assistance Programme in place, where you can access confidential support, assistance and potentially counselling.