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Coping with anxiety during COVID - adults | Mental health | Birmingham City Council

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Coping with anxiety during COVID - adults

Throughout COVID we are all to spending more time at home, as such we are all experiencing new or different feelings. Anxiety is the feeling we get when we feel worried, tense or afraid. It can happen in lots of situations, for example when we are about to learn things that are usually unpleasant to hear, or even worrying about something that might happen in the future. Being anxious is a natural emotion that anyone can experience especially when we are just that ‘little bit down’. It’s a natural human response when we think we are under threat from whatever source. Anxiety happens through our thoughts, feelings and physical sensations and can appear any time without warning. Anxiety can also cause us to focus our attention more on what is happening around us and can give us a rush of adrenaline that makes our reaction extreme. This is often referred to as ‘fight or flight’.

Anxiety can affect your daily life by giving you a sense of not being in control of your life. The good news is there are plenty of things you can try to help cope with anxiety. But remember, always seek further advice or help if you feel that you are not coping well.

To understand your anxiety:

  • Try and keep a diary of what you are doing and how you feel at different times. This can help identify what's affecting you and what you need to act on.
  • Don’t hide it if you are feeling anxious. Instead, if your worry feels like it’s getting on top of your life and is taking over your day, set yourself some time to make a list of anything that is making you anxious. Go through them each day, this is a good way to then focus on other things you want to be getting on with.
  • Don’t get into a pattern of focusing on negative thoughts, feelings and behaviour as they can lead to unhelpful actions. Instead, recognise them for what they are, challenge them and replace with more positive thinking and behaviour.
  • Some people find relaxation by practicing Yoga, mindfulness or breathing exercises helpful. They reduce tension and focus our awareness on the present moment. Think of a time when you were in a good place, the colours of the rainbow and your own favourite colour, what you enjoy doing most (such as gardening, cooking your favourite dish). Think happy thoughts.
  • Don’t avoid unpleasant situations as they will still be hanging around and will not help you to break the cycle. Instead, face them and then move on.

A dozen things to remember and keep on your radar:

  1. Do some practical things, other than chores, that keeps you occupied
  2. Stay connected with family, friends, and neighbours, whether it’s by phone, WhatsApp, or across the garden fence, making sure you are following guidelines on social distancing
  3. Talk about your worries – always remember it’s good to talk!
  4. Look after your body by exercising – you can find exercises on our Active at home page - it’s just as important as your mind
  5. Do not let difficult feelings get you down, stamp on it and stay focused on the positive
  6. Stop watching the news constantly – instead read a book, watch a film, or a cookery programme
  7. Take up a hobby such as craft work, learn to knit (you could be making a woolly-pully ready for next winter!)
  8. Keep doing the things you enjoy that you can safely do at home
  9. Take time out to relax – sun on your face, eyes closed and listen to the birds or observe the trees coming into buds
  10. Plan your day and get yourself into a good routine – change this occasionally if you think something else will work better for you
  11. Keep your mind active – draw or write, learn some new words that you can drop into your conversations or phrases in a foreign language – challenge yourself
  12. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep