With Toni Horton – Life Strategy Coach

I don’t have to tell you that we are living in very weird times right now. Things are changing every five minutes and it’s very disconcerting. Uncertainty fuels anxiety and when things come out of the blue like this, we are not prepared for the amount of upheaval we are going to feel and we are not always sure what we need to do, in this case because it is completely unprecedented, for us and for the wider world.

Worry and anxiety can be very similar feelings but the basic difference is worry normally takes place when something is actually happening, when you know what you are dealing with and you can start to plan how you are going to respond. Anxiety is fear of the future, in a nutshell the unknown feeling about what might happen, how big it might get and what are the repercussions. This is what a lot of people are currently experiencing. Even if you are not normally an anxious person, It feels like a lot is going on right now and it’s very easy to get pulled along with the collective fear that is surrounding us.

I just want to share a few quick tips with you to help you look after your mental health, as when something like this outbreak happens, it’s so easy for us to feel that everything is out of our control and that’s when we can become very anxious.

1) Tune Into Official News Channels

We know that there is a lot of incorrect information about coronavirus out there right now. When you are on social media it’s very easy to start out watching a fluffy kitten video and suddenly you are clicking on all kinds of links, each one with a worse headline than before. Switch off your notifications so that you don’t get bombarded and only stay up to date with the main news channels, they will carry all the latest guidelines and you can trust that the information has come from a good source.

2) Unfollowing People On Social Media

It’s not just the media sites that can trigger anxiety, it’s certain individuals. They might be family, friends, colleagues or random people that you follow. They might be talking in a way that you feel uncomfortable with so do not feel bad about unfollowing them. Instead find some uplifting accounts that help you feel calmer and more in control of your situation.

3) Boundaries

As much as the news is changing every five minutes, it doesn’t mean that we have to talk about every little detail constantly. If you are finding it hard to listen to somebody going on and on, don’t be afraid to ask them if you can talk about something else. Or leave the conversation if that’s preferable to you.

4) Understand Fear

Everybody is different and everybody deals with fear in different ways. We all react differently – some people panic through fear in order to feel safe, hence the current panic buying of the pasta and toilet rolls and some people minimise and that is how they feel safe, they make light of the situation and can almost appear to be in denial.

5) Sit With Uncertainty

This is the hard bit if you haven’t done it before. Sometimes we have to learn to live with uncertainty, we can’t always know the outcome and we can’t always choose the outcome. Very much like living with illness or going through a relationship breakdown, the outcome is not always ours to decide. What we can do in this instance is work out what we can control, in order to feel as strong as we can. For this outbreak, we can decide to follow all of the health instructions that are accessible to all of us, like proper handwashing etc.

And as further measures are introduced, we can take back the control by taking action to implement those measures, knowing that we are doing all we can.

6) Seek Help

If you already have an anxiety condition or maybe OCD that’s being triggered by the news or if you don’t but you are finding the news just too overwhelming, do reach out for support. Decide where you need that support to come from, work out whether you want to see a professional or whether you want to speak to a trusted friend who you know to be supportive.

These are just a few tips to help you feel more in control and a bit stronger about the situation. Please know you are not alone in this and it’s definitely not silly or a sign of weakness to be worried about this.

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