It’s normal if your health anxieties are starting to spiral. For some of us lockdown has become a comfort zone of safety and that is nothing to be ashamed of.
We’re human, we thrive from habitual routine and familiarity. With the prospect of lockdown lifting once again and restrictions beginning to ease, you might find your COVID-related health worries are on the rise. It might be your own health or your family and friends safety making you increasingly more anxious.
If this sounds like you, our tips below might help you harness some calm.
Keep a diary
Keep a diary of how obsessions and worries present themselves; for example, frequency of checking symptoms and calling doctors for reassurance.
This can be helpful in identifying your triggers and particular times of day or environments where you are feeling most anxious. You can then focus on what you need to take action on.
When we feel anxious, our bodies often trigger a physical stress response, that causes the heart to beat faster and the breath to become quicker and shallower. Deep breathing techniques are one of the most effective ways to counter the stress response and calm the body and mind.
Facts not fiction
Think facts and not Dr Google, Web MD or that one friend on Facebook who you can count on to share a dizzying array of misinformation.
Avoid attempting to self-diagnose and only look to trusted sources of such as the NHS, Public Health England, your GP or assigned health care professional.
This too shall pass
Sometimes it can take longer than usual, but remember that your anxious state isn’t permanent and it will pass.
Don't exacerbate your anxieties. If you're battling four-walls syndrome and a touch of cabin fever, get outside when you can to benefit from some fresh air and natural light.
If the news and media are fuelling your worries, then stop doom-scrolling and mute those non-stop notifications. If you're finding it hard to stay away, you could set yourself a specific time to read updates or limit yourself to a couple of checks a day.
Just because you think something, doesn’t make it true. When persistent and intrusive thoughts won't leave you alone, you can try to counter it with factual statements.
If you're worried about your loved one catching and dying from coronavirus as restrictions begin to lift, counter it with a fact such as more and more people are being vaccinated every day to help protect and prevent the spread of the virus.
A space for you
It can be hard transitioning into another new or unfamiliar routine. Try making a space just for you - a little sanctuary where you can retreat for some peace, quiet and relaxation time.
It doesn't have to be grand. If you're spending what feels like half your life filling and emptying your washing machine, transform the area into a place you like to be. Not only can it help you relax when your anxiety is spiralling, but it also provides a great distraction from your worries.
Talk about it
It’s completely normal for most people to have some degree of re-entry anxiety at this time. It is important to accept that seeking help is okay and adaptive. Find a GP you can trust, who listens to your concerns and can rule out any underlying medical concerns or worries you may have.
Sharing your worries and concerns with another can also help you see a different perspective. You might even be able to help someone else by sharing your strategies and tips for coping.