Stay Healthy and Reduce Anxiety During Coronavirus

28th April 2020 By Phoenix Hospital Group

The Coronavirus pandemic is a public health crisis which presents unprecedented challenges for all of us. Our physical and emotional health, our finances, our jobs and the very nature of society as we know it have all been challenged. This has caused anxiety for many of us. Here is our guide to staying positive and healthy through the corona virus crisis.

Physical Health During Coronavirus

Clearly the number one priority for most people is staying physically healthy. Ideally avoiding the virus altogether, at least until a vaccine or an effective way of treating the virus has been found, is preferable so take all sensible measures to protect yourself and those around you.

The first and most important precaution you can take is to follow government coronavirus guidance on steps to take to minimise the risk of spreading infection both for yourself and for others while staying at home.

The government’s advice will no doubt change over time but currently the advice is:

  • Stay home
  • Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home)
  • If you go out, always stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people
  • Do not meet others, even friends or family. You can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms.
  • Wash your hands as soon as you get home

For the latest and most detailed medical advice, support and information visit the government’s website:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do

 

Develop Good Habits During Coronavirus

There is a lot we can’t control during coronavirus, but we still have choices. A certain level of anxiety is understandable. It’s our ability to make good choices during lockdown at home which will help us come through the crisis in the best health.

There is a lot of coronavirus information available from the government and NHS if we need advice and this may help us if we feel anxious.

Having a regular daily routine where we get up, shower, get dressed, eat at regular times, take exercise, stay in contact with friends and family, get enough sleep are all small but important steps we can take to manage any anxiety we may be feeling and to maintain good mental health.

 

Exercise During Coronavirus

Our physical health has a huge impact on how we feel, how we act and how we behave. Currently the government’s advice allows us to leave the house once a day for exercise. This has several benefits both physically and emotionally.

Whilst you can go for a run or cycling even walking can help lower stress levels, reduce blood pressure, lower anxiety and raise our mood.

If you are able to visit a park or walk in the countryside this too can help with your well-being as multiple studies have shown being surrounded by nature can all help enhance how we feel and support our individual well-being.

Being fully present in the moment, focusing on your surroundings also helps. Taking pleasure from the simple things in life can be very rewarding such as enjoying the beauty of something as simple as a flower, birdsong or a view.

In our normal day to day busy lives how often do we really take time out to do this?

Being outside will also help give you vitamin D through sunlight which helps keep teeth, bones and muscles healthy. Just don’t overdo the sunshine and use sun cream to manage the risks of burning.

Even when we can’t be out of the house, we can still take steps to improve our wellbeing. Stretching alone helps change how we feel and get our blood pumping more effectively. There are plenty exercise videos online which can keep you fit and healthy in your own home such as Joe Wicks, the Body Coach.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAxW1XT0iEJo0TYlRfn6rYQ

 

Diet During Coronavirus

You can control what you eat during coronavirus outbreak. In the first few weeks of the crisis supermarkets ran short on a lot of key ingredients as some people stockpiled.

Recently however shops are well stocked, and this gives us a chance to plan our diet and eat healthily.

There’s no excuse for not getting your five fruit and vegetables a day and with time to be creative in the kitchen you may be able to try new recipes while staying at home.

Just watch out for high fat, salt and sugar foods like crisps, biscuits and chocolate which will soon pile on the pounds, especially if you are being less active than normal.

Don’t drink too much alcohol and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated – it is nature’s simplest and best detox.

Many people are using the opportunity of having more time at home to diet and lose weight during corona virus. With more time to cook healthy meals and exercise there may never be a better time to lose a few excess pounds.

With far less structure in most people’s lives right now it can help to have a positive goal to focus on.

 

Coronavirus Anxiety

Many people have had anxiety during the coronavirus pandemic.

Whether it is worrying about your health, the health of loved ones, your finances, job or business there are many reasons for people to be concerned. Even those people whose mental health is normally good may feel challenged while staying at home for the duration of the coronavirus outbreak.

It is totally understandable to have these concerns but there are steps you can take that can help.

 

Talk to friends and family

So many people are going through challenges at the moment it can be good to talk through your concerns and get support. Often a problem shared is a problem halved. In any case a sympathetic ear can help you voice your concerns and emotions in a healthy way and may even lead to solutions you hadn’t considered.

Almost inevitably talking to others will encourage them to share their concerns with you too. Often helping others takes us temporarily away from our own concerns and gives us a break. It can feel really good to support other people and this alone can lift your mood while stuck at home.

Feeling that you are not alone during Covid 19 and that we are all in this together can be a real source of strength.

Knowing that like other crises in the past, such as wars, famines and natural disasters, this crisis will eventually pass can also be a comfort.

Just be aware not everyone will want to hear your problems so choose your confidants wisely. Some people will feel they have too much on their own plate to listen and help you.

 

Talk to others who can help

Sometimes talking to a friend or relative will not be enough and you may need to speak to a professional or a specialist for support.

Your GP surgery can also point you in the direction of some very valuable information and resources such as counsellors and therapists many of whom can help you over the phone or via Skype or Zoom.

If you have existing health anxiety or mental health conditions or have recently started to feel anxious make sure you speak to your GP or healthcare professional as they may help you to manage your anxiety better during coronavirus.

There are a number of resources available from the Citizen’s advice bureau, the Samaritans, your employers, your bank, mortgage provider, credit card company and so on.

If you are finding things difficult, then reach out. Support and information are often available if you need them.

 

Coronavirus and Social Media – Be careful what information you consume

There is so much information on corona virus particularly online. Much of it is false, misleading and can cause unnecessary stress.

Ask yourself is it making you feel better or worse watching the news and going onto social media. If it is having a negative effect then it may be worth taking a break, limiting your news consumption to a few minutes a day and being selective about the information you consume.

You might decide catching the main headlines on the news is enough. Use credible news organisations such as the BBC or ITV who are less likely to provide misleading information than posts on Facebook or Twitter and don’t let the news dominate how you feel.

We can easily spend too much time on social media and let this affect our mood. This is particularly true for people with health anxiety for whom misleading information on social media or excessive news coverage can be especially distressing. If you feel overwhelmed reach out for support.

 

Feel Better During Coronavirus – Practice Positively Distracting Yourself.

It’s up to you where you focus your attention. You can focus it on negative news, people or emotions or choose a healthier alternative.

If you can become aware of how you are feeling and catch yourself before you start to spiral into a negative mood this can really help.

Remember you are not your thoughts. You can simply observe them and decide not to engage with them if they are not helpful. Then refocus your energies into something positive, helping someone, exercising or reading a good book can all be helpful distractions.

Don’t dwell on negativity, focus on the positives. Did you know for example many successful businesses have started during times of recession?

Disney, Burger King, Microsoft and Apple all started when their founders saw the opportunities many people didn’t during challenging economic times.

 

Creativity During Coronavirus – Get Engrossed in a Hobby

One of the reported positives from corona virus has been many people having time to be more creative: from baking cakes, to getting stuck into the garden, finishing that DIY project or designing rainbow paintings to thank the NHS.

By helping other people in all sorts of creative ways the crisis allows us to take actions we wouldn’t have done otherwise and to make a difference to our lives, the lives of those around us and our community.

Think of how you can help others, perhaps taking inspiration from others such as Captain Tom Moore, the retired army officer, whose sponsored walk raised an extraordinary amount of money for the NHS. At the time of writing this article he had raised over £28 million.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/tomswalkforthenhs

For many people very rarely will you have time in your life to take up a creative hobby and many people have reported feeling this is a very cathartic experience.

It doesn’t have to be complicated. You could paint, draw, cook, garden or even learn a new skill during lockdown. You might even use the opportunity to start retraining for that job you have always wanted.

 

Stay Calm During Coronavirus

For many people slowing down and clearing your mind helps them deal with stress and anxiety.

You could try meditation, mindfulness, yoga or deep breathing exercises. In a connected world we have access through the internet to hundreds of free resources where we can use simple, natural techniques to manage and enhance our mood.

The NHS has a good guide on getting started with mindfulness

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mindfulness/

There are many free guided meditations on YouTube. Headspace is one of the most popular to get started.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1Ndym-IsQg

Deep breathing can help us slow down, relax and feel less stressed.

https://www.healthline.com/health/breathing-exercise#pursed-lip-breathing