Ella Donnison: 6 tips for managing coronovirus anxiety

It's a strange and difficult time for everyone right now. Ella shares her advice, as well as some useful resources, to help manage day to day. 

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Anxiety and worry about the current coronavirus situation is taking hold of us all, the news and social media report new information and advice each day and fear is constantly growing as a result. As a student at Sheffield University, coronavirus is the only thing I seem to be hearing about, I’m constantly bombarded with tips and guidance on how best to approach this novel event, but I feel that scaremongering has become the norm and conflicting advice only pushes us all further into darkness.

Anxiety is only natural at such a difficult time; we worry about the lack of control we have over the situation and our inability to predict what could come in the future. Anxiety is common in day to day life with symptoms of panic, social withdrawal and hypervigilance particularly regarding personal health; so in hard situations this is naturally only exacerbated. Due to this we need to find ways that we can manage feelings of anxiety in order to make it more manageable – we need to know the facts and continue to live a healthy and active lifestyle.

Tip 1 –  Hand Washing

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We need to abide by guidelines of the NHS and follow advice by washing hands frequently throughout the day especially when in contact with other people and in public spaces. Frequent hand washing and use of hand sanitizer is something we can all realistically and easily do and will help to calm nerves, knowing that you are taking the healthy precautions to ensure cleanliness and safety. Focusing on what you can control is vital.

Tip 2 –  Stay active maintaining a healthy lifestyle

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Staying active and connected to a social network is vital. Our mental health is just as important as our physical health. For me especially, exercise helps to clear my mind and reduces symptoms of anxiety even if this is just a walk in your garden or a few squats in your living room! Talking to others also serves our emotional needs – anxiety and stress are much more manageable with peer and family support. None of us are alone through this even if we are self-isolating – this is the benefit of social media!

Tip 3 – Try to avoid excessive news

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Try to stick to the facts provided by the government – the media and news are constantly producing stories about the coronavirus and reading these will only re-engage our anxiety and feed our fear. If you can, try to take a break from the press, avoid any speculation and look at reputable sources regarding the outbreak.

Tip 4 – Focus on the positive

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For me self-isolating is the aspect that causes me the most anxiety, after all it will mean a different rhythm of life. But it provides an opportunity to focus on being mindful – creating a daily routine to prioritize yourself – try to view this as a new and unusual experience that might actually have its benefits. Have a read of Lucy Hamilton’s story about her experiences of learning to enjoy quarantine in China.

Tip 5 – Try a countering technique

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Try to confront anxiety with a rational counter statement to settle any worries you may have; for example instead of worrying that someone close to you may become seriously ill you could counter this with a factual statement such as ‘people who contract coronavirus are likely to make a full recovery’. By doing so you can remove irrational beliefs and focus on the reality of what’s going on. An online therapy service is also now offering free sessions if you feel you need that extra bit of support during this difficult period.

And most helplines and online services are staying open that can provide you with any support and guidance that you may need just visit .

Tip 6 – Stay connected

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Staying in contact is so important and vital for a healthy mind! Try to call friends and family and anyone who you know who might be feeling the effects of isolation. If you feel you could or want to do more, Voluntary Action Sheffield are looking for volunteers. Email [email protected] if you would like to get involved. 

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