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Helpful Ways to Manage Anxiety around Contracting COVID-19

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As COVID-19 case numbers continue to rise in Australia, anxiety, fear and dread about contracting or transmitting the virus is causing a significant emotional toll. While some anxiety is normal, and even helpful, as it reminds us to take care and precautions, it can be unhelpful if these emotions become overwhelming. 

Here are some helpful ways to manage your anxiety:

Validate your emotions and let them pass: From confusion, anxiety, fear, and worry to anger, frustration, and a sense of helplessness – all feelings are valid given the circumstances. One technique for managing difficult emotions is to learn to sit with them, name them, without the need to respond to them. Another approach maybe to try describe how you’re feeling and express what might be helpful for these emotions to pass.

Try to see things clearly: For some the fear of contracting COVID-19 can make it hard to think and to see things clearly. We may inadvertently get stuck in a pattern of worry – and when our worry feels out of control we feel worse. Try to check in with your thoughts and ask yourself if the way you’re thinking about the situation is helpful or unhelpful. Choose instead to focus on what you can control, rather than what you can’t. Things such as your diet, sleeping well, exercising, and staying socially connected.

Limit media consumption: it’s hard not to obsess over the daily numbers, but consuming too much COVID-19 related news is associated with higher levels of anxiety. Put a limit on the amount of news you consume, and mute/unfollow accounts that make you feel triggered or uneasy.

Be kind to yourself: Acknowledge that it’s okay to feel anxious about COVID-19, instead of judging or criticising yourself. This technique is called ‘self-validation’. Self-validation is an important part of coping with difficult situations, but it is a skill that takes practice. Try to do or say at least one self-validating thing per day, such as:

It’s okay that I feel angry about the pandemic. Having some time out to myself will help me manage my feelings.

Calm your emotions: All humans experience unpleasant emotions, especially during these tough times. There are ways to help calm these emotions, such as controlled breathing, mindfulness or relaxation exercises. The more that you practice these the more effective they are.

Proceed with caution: It’s a tricky time as we balance the risk of contracting COVID-19 with our desire to see loved ones. Continue to follow the necessary precautions and if you have a health condition or are more vulnerable to COVID-19 for other reasons, it’s important to consult your GP for guidance.

Seek support: It’s normal to feel anxiety, but if your anxiety is overwhelming or getting in the way of your life, it’s important to seek more help. Speak to your GP if you’re unsure of where to start.

Are you in self-isolation right now? 

You may find our Guide to Self-Isolation helpful in supporting your mental health. 

You could also take a look at our dedicated Coping Tools page for strategies on navigating challenging situations.  

Interested in learning more?

Free Online Tools for Coping with COVID-19

Access a suite of practical workbooks, an audioguide, and other useful materials to help you manage coronavirus stress and anxiety.

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