COVID-19 and Anxiety
If you are feeling nervous and worried in this current time, I want to let you know – It is normal to feel worry and anxiety: The lack of predictability and lack of control are two key factors associated with stress and anxiety. Therefore, it is understandable that most people are feeling this way currently.
There is much that we do not know about the COVID-19 virus, so it is an understandable and normal response to feel concern, anxiety, and worry about its impacts and spread. I suggest that you accept and validate these reactions in yourselves and others, even as you take positive steps to respond to these reactions.
It is important to note if you are feeling distressed and want a check in with a Psychologist, even as a one off that you access the support. We know that early intervention is always favourable, and during this time of unpredictability I urge you to take care of yourself and your mental health.
The change to “physical distance” promotes that people still remain connected.
According to Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove of the World Health Organization, speaking at a virtual press conference on Friday, the move to use “physical distancing” comes from a desire to highlight “keeping the physical distance from people so that we can prevent the virus from transferring to one another.”
The change to say physical distance promotes people to still remain connected. This can include regular calls to family, video calls with friends, and even participating in organised online events. There are links to lots of online events and supports included in this newsletter.
I tried my first Telehealth service today, I thought it would feel awkward but after about 5 minutes I realised it just felt the same. I was thankful I tried it.
What is Telehealth?
Telehealth refers to a videoconference consultation involving communication between you and your clinician using both a video and audio connection. This is similar to connecting with family, friends or business contacts using programs such as FaceTime or Zoom. Some providers will require you to download special software.
Why is Telehealth helpful?
Video-conferencing is one of the main ways in which Telehealth is improving access to healthcare services for patients. This is incredibly vital during the period of uncertainty to give people the access to mental health services. It means that people can access support during quarantine or isolation.
How do I use it?
Many Psychologists are using a platform called Zoom. This means that a meeting number or link is sent to you and you either enter the number or click on the link and you are connected with your Psychologist. It is as easy as that. You will need a phone, laptop or tablet to access the service. However, services can also be provided over the telephone.
Why should I try it?
It means that you can access psychological treatment from the comfort of your own home. Research shows that it is just as effective as psychological intervention face-to-face. It is vital to prioritise your mental health currently and Telehealth services allow this.
Telehealth Services are now available at Clear Health Psychology. MBS item rebates make telemedicine affordable like never before.
There is no need now to ever neglect your mental health, ring our admin team on (08) 6424 8177 or email email@example.com to discuss further.
For those that are under financial duress we are here to support our community. Please speak to our admin team.
Mental health tips for quarantine
- Stick to a routine. Go to sleep and wake up same time, write a time that includes activities work and self-care. This might include a project or a long term project, lots of online courses are offering discounts at the moment.
- Dress for the social life you want, not the one you have. Get showered and dressed in comfortable clothes, brush your teeth get ready as if you are going out – it will increase your mood. Set time aside for a facial or bath, try putting on bright colours. It is amazing how our clothes can impact our mood and outlook.
- Get out once a day for at least 30 minutes. If you are concerned around contact, try first thing in the morning or later in the evening. If you are high risk, open the windows, or blast the fan to feel a breeze. Fresh air can do wonders for us.
- Find some time to exercise, stretch or move each day. Again, try for 30 minutes. If you don’t feel comfortable going outside, there are many fitness videos, youtube exercise classes and yoga movement classes online. If all else fails turn on some old school music, or your favourite music and have a dance.
- Reach out to others, socialise and try to maintain social contact for 30 minutes. This can be via Skype, FaceTime, phone calls, texting or an array of social media apps. Don’t forget to try to do this for your children too – setting up virtual playdates can be a way of social connection for both parents and children.
- Stay well hydrated and eat well. It is well known that stress and eating often don’t mix well together. Drink plenty of water, cook healthy meals. You could even try to cook your favourite meal, a meal that you have not tried before or bake.
- Set time aside for self-care. You guessed it, I am going to say for 30 minutes a day. This will look different for each person but some ideas are: a soft blanket, hot chocolate, music, movies, book, lavender oil and for kids, bubbles, a colourful book, activities, anything for comfort when we feel we need it. This might include having a personal space area you can go to when you feel overwhelmed.
- Find something to control. When we feel overwhelmed and uncertain we need areas to control. It helps ground us and feel things are a little less chaotic.
- Limit social media around COVID-19. This information is often negatively skewed and alarmist. Find a few trusted sources that you can check in with and set yourself a limit each day maybe 2-3 times for ten minutes or whatever works for you.
- Show self-kindness and kindness to others. Everyone will have their moments in which they will not be their best. Being quarantined can have this effect on people. Everyone is doing the best they can to get through this, including you.
Talking to children and teenagers on coping with COVID-19 and anxiety
This is a period in which many adults are stressed and anxious, it is also a period in which children also need to be cared for, particularly surrounding their anxiety regarding information about COVID-19.
It is important to be mindful about your child’s level of development, as you choose what to tell them about the COVID-19 pandemic. I encourage all to limit exposure to media about the pandemic, especially without some discussion about what they understand about these media encounters.
It is important to remember that children may not understand things the way and adult may. Find out more about how you can talk to children about illness & COVID-19 here.
We know that routine and structure is really important during self isolation. It is also a period of time in which we have the opportunity to spend longer in bed. This can be problematic and cause sleep difficulties, low mood and make our brain associate our bed with entertainment. Here are some tips to help manage this:
- Establish a routine – go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time every morning, even if you feel tired or sleepy
- Avoid sleeping during the day
- Exercise during the day – preferably outdoors
- Avoid exercise late at night, as it stimulates endorphins that may keep you awake
- Limit use of stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine before bed – caffeine can take up to 6 hours to leave your system
- Ensure the bedroom is quiet, cool, dark and comfortable
- Avoid using your bed for other activities other than sleep e.g. reading, smoking, listening to the radio, watching TV
- Avoid going to bed too hungry or too full
- Relax before going to bed. This could mean having a hot bath, listening to relaxing music, having a hot milky drink (caffeine-free) or doing a relaxation exercise
- Try to avoid worrying about not getting enough sleep – trying to make yourself to go to sleep just keeps you awake!
- If you have not managed to sleep after half an hour, get up and go to a different room and do something quiet and un-stimulating until you feel sleepy
- Avoid doing stimulating things before bed such as watching TV.
- Avoid looking at the clock while trying to sleep – this will only make you worry!
What is worry?
Everyone experiences worry from time to time, especially when faced with difficult or uncertain situations. However, some people worry a lot, to the point that it begins to affect their wellbeing and causes chronic feelings of nervousness, stress and anxiety.
Worry can be defined as a type of self-talk in which we predict that negative events will happen in the future and over-estimate the possibility of disaster. Worrying thoughts tend to be characterised by ‘what if?’ statements, for example:
What if my plane is delayed?
What if I’m caught in traffic and am late for work?
What if something awful happens to my children?
What if I get ill?
What if I lose my job?
Strategies for worry
As we discovered in the unhelpful behaviours section, trying suppressing worries or pushing them out of your mind isn’t particularly effective. A helpful alternative is to postpone worry. Agree with yourself a time of day when you have permission to worry, for example at 6pm each evening.
Allow yourself 15-20 minutes. If you find yourself wanting to worry about things at any other time of day or night, make the decision to worry about it later, during your pre-arranged ‘Worry Time’.
Mindfulness has its roots in Buddhism and is about taking a non-judgemental approach to your thoughts and worries. The idea of mindfulness is to let go of your worries without making any attempts to push them away or get involved with them. Try to become a casual observer of your worries – notice that they are there, observe them and then watch them drift away in their own time, just like you would passing clouds in the sky.
A psychologist can help if:
- You often feel sad, struggle to find pleasure in life and find it hard to get motivated.
- You are constantly worried, anxious and stressed and this interferes with your enjoyment of life.
- You’re in a relationship that is suffering from a loss of trust, feelings of resentment, repeated arguments or a lack of intimacy.
- You lack self confidence and/or self esteem and this stops you from doing the things you want.
- Your life is ‘out-of-balance’.
- You’re struggling being a parent and find it hard to deal with your child or teenager’s behaviour.
- You feel stuck – have tried to make changes but can’t make any real or lasting progress.
Please contact us if you feel you need psychological support during this time, and please feel free to share this resource with whomever you feel may benefit from it.
Jenna is a Clinical Psychologist and co-director at both Alkimos and Ellenbrook. She is passionate about the role of psychology in helping people bring about positive change and improve their social and emotional wellbeing.
Jenna can provide cognitive, intelligence and ADHD testing, and also utilises key strategies such as CBT, ACT and DBT.
Book an appointment by calling the number below or find out more about Jenna here.