How to deal with stress and anxiety related to the COVID-19 pandemic

Stress and anxiety about COVID-19 can take an emotional toll. Here's what you can do to look after your mental health during these challenging times.

Back of a shirtless man sitting at a desk facing the wall. People are facing stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 outbreak

As the COVID-19 pandemic and its implications continue to unfold globally and in our community, it’s normal for people to experience stress and anxiety. Humans are hard-wired for connection; our survival as a baby depends on it. This explains why so many of us are struggling with working from home and implementing the very necessary social distancing and self-isolation practices while existing issues might be triggered.

So what can we do to get through this challenging period?

For me, I have developed my own ‘Tool Box Of Coping Skills’ which include the following tips:

Plan your day: Have a plan for your day; it can be simple like doing that housework you have been putting off!

Screen time: Limit your time looking at news and social media – to maybe twice a day. Keep informed of developments but only use trusted sources such as the HSE. The constant absorption of bad news and updates on the COVID-19 pandemic will only increase your stress and anxiety levels.

Meditation: I am a big fan of meditation and practice Grounding and Metta meditation daily. Stress and anxiety are proven to weaken our immune systems. Meditation relaxes the body and relieves stress. If you would like a free download of any these mediations, check out my website.

Half-hour slots: One of the best tools to keep me mindful and in the present moment is the use of half-hour slots. Just think about what you need to do for the next half an hour, and don’t let your mind go beyond that. One half-hour slot at a time!!

Eat well: Eat nutritious food and drink plenty of water. The temptation to comfort eat and drink alcohol is immense during this period of isolation. Try to avoid alcohol and sugar as it weakens your immune system, and it affects your mood.

Exercise: Make sure you do some form of exercise every day. YouTube has loads of exercise programs that you can do at home. Some Yoga teachers are offering their classes online. Exercise strengthens your immune system and increases your serotonin levels.

Rest: Get plenty of rest and sleep. Quality sleep and rest helps with anxiety & stress and keeps your immune system high.

A person holding a smartphone to symbolise the drugs and HIV helpline

Stay connected: We are hard-wired for connection, so use Face Time, Whatsapp or Zoom Video to reach out to friends and family. There are many video apps out there. I use Zoom Video for client appointments and to stay in touch with friends and family.

Choose the people you interact with: Limit your exposure to negative people. Pay attention to how people make you feel, negative people, drain your energy surround yourself with positivity.

Hobbies: Why not use the time to catch up on some reading, maybe learn a language or do an online course? App’s like Babel are inexpensive and easy to use.

Mind yourself: We may not be in control of external events, but we can control our thoughts. Our thoughts generate our feelings and emotions. If we manage our thoughts, we can control our feelings. The subconscious mind is the mind of feeling and emotion and responds to powerful words and statements. When I am stressed, I say to myself ten times “I have extraordinary coping skills.” Why don’t you give it a try and let me know how you get on?

Remember nothing is permanent we are all in this together. Look after yourself and follow the HSE and government guidelines.

Darragh Finlay

About Darragh and Rapid Transformational TherapyTM

Rapid Transformational TherapyTM is a hybrid therapy that unleashes the power of the subconscious mind using elements of hypnotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, counselling and coaching. My private practice is based in Dublin and Dundalk, and I also work with clients over Zoom Video conferencing.

Go to www.darraghfinlay.ie to find out more or call 085 854 1152 for a free, no-obligation discovery call.

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