Anxiety in the Time of Corona Virus

By |2020-04-05T19:55:39+10:00April 5th, 2020|

COVID-19: Change and Loss

The corona virus has caused enormous social and economic disruption, and resulted in dramatic changes to the way we work and live.  These radical changes have occurred in a very short period of time, which has intensified the adjustments that we have all had to make.  Levels of health anxiety are also high.  As the number of confirmed cases within Australia climbs, people’s anxiety about the virus is also increasing.

Many people have experienced significant losses.  The loss or disruption to employment and financial security.  A loss of social contact, and a potential loss of structure and routines.  The transition to working from home has been challenging for many people, and for children too who are home from school.

The loss of freedom and loss of our previous sense of security and certainty within the world is also significant.  Although these are less tangible losses, they remain important nonetheless.

Stress and Worry

Change and uncertainty bring feelings of worry and unease.  This is normal.  It is an understandable (but uncomfortable) part of being human.  It would be unusual to not sometimes experience strong emotions in these extreme circumstances.

As it is likely that your anxiety will continue to fluctuate over the coming months, finding adaptive ways to manage these feelings is important and to prevent further escalations of distress.  This is equally true for people with and without a history of anxiety.

Distress and Depression

Social connection and a sense of control are key determinants of good mental health. In the era of corona virus and social distancing, finding new ways to connect virtually with friends and family is an essential part of our adjustment.  It can also mean renegotiating existing relationships with the people we are confined to home with.  We are also challenged to find new ways of establishing control and mastery within new routines.

Media Coverage

Constant exposure to media coverage can be unhelpful.  It is important to limit this throughout your day, and rely upon reputable sources. Too much information can increase your anxiety.  When we are overloaded with information, it can be difficult to maintain a balanced perspective. We become susceptible to adopting an overly negative viewpoint, as we imagine the worst outcomes and underestimate our ability to cope.

Currently in Australia, the number of confirmed corona virus cases is low. Only five percent of the population is vulnerable to severe complications. This means that in most cases, corona virus infection is usually mild and most people recover without specialised treatment. Taking reasonable precautions and following health advice is recommended.

Calming Anxiety – Mindfulness and Relaxation

Mindfulness is a useful practice to help tune-in and quieten our minds. The benefits of this approach have been studied widely. Most importantly though, with practice many people find they feel less stressed and their emotional reactivity is lowered.  There are many different types of mindfulness, below are several helpful links:

Mindfulness of the breath or breathing mindfulness (15 min)
Body Scan for Adults (15 min)
Body Scan for Kids (11 min)

If you find it difficult to focus your attention and observe your breath as per mindfulness, then you could try Progressive Muscle Relaxation a guided practice of tensing and releasing tense muscles. Children can also practice progressive muscle relaxation.

Next Steps

If you feel overwhelmed or distressed as a result of corona virus you can contact our team of psychologists for mental health support

Call 03 9077 0122 to book an appointment.

We are provide tele-health consultations, which now attract a Medicare rebate.

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