Virtual ConsultationsMarch 17, 2020
As the situation involving the Covid 19 virus unfolds it will cause significant changes and adjustments which will be anxiety-provoking. The following points may help you cope over the next few weeks
- Firstly, do not panic – anxiety may make any symptoms worse or make you experience health anxiety when you may not have any symptoms. Your mind and body will adjust to the change.
- Do not read everything that is out there. Avoid random information that is not medically accurate – Some Twitter feeds and WhatsApp forwards can be very misleading.
- Stick to medical facts and learn about the symptoms which are detailed clearly in the NHS information resources.
- Remember this is a virus which likely to be self-limiting and your body has the capability to fight it.
- Avoid thoughts and discussions that create a sense of hopelessness or doom. Although many people may be suffering the same symptoms at the same time it does not mean as an individual you or anyone around you cannot cope with the condition.
- If you do get symptoms of the virus that are flu like follow the guidelines published by the NHS; CDC and from other reputable sites. Remember rest and plenty of fluids is essential. Again do not panic your body is used to fighting infections and anxiety will put extra strain on your body.
- Keep in regular contact with people you know using the telephone and video links -remember isolation does not mean social isolation. It helps to talk to people about your concerns and feelings however embarrassing they may be. It is normal to feel concerned and worried.
- Help others – helping each other makes us feel stronger and we then tend to feel less isolated. It is a pandemic – you are not alone, everybody will be affected by this condition directly or indirectly. Avoid feelings of guilt or blame.
- Recognise when you are getting anxious and restless. Avoid overthinking or catastrophising. Plan your day ahead and make sure that your routines are normal especially if you are in isolation without symptoms -there is no need for you to not exercise at home if need be; have a full diet and do leisure activities at home if you are asymptomatic. If you are symptomatic make sure you have a solid routine of sleep; you eat well in order to fight the infection and you have relaxation time.
- Do not increase your alcohol; smoking or any drug consumption in order to cope with the stress of this – it will only worsen your symptoms.
- Take breaks from hearing about the pandemic or talking about the pandemic – it is very hard to filter what is useful or not useful and there’s a limit to what any individual needs to know. Try not to make interpretations from news clippings about what governments might be doing and predict what is going to happen next.
- Keep your body stretched, nimble and well nourished, as it is your body that will fight infections
- Take time out and develop useful relaxation techniques. These include yoga and mindfulness techniques – which you can get from applications or from YouTube; music – particularly relaxing music; relaxation therapy, breathing techniques and meditation. Watch programmes or read books that relax and uplift you.
- Make a list of self-care and practical steps you can do daily as being off work for a long period of time like this may be alien to you.
- If you are looking after your children look out for the following;
- they may display excessive worrying
- they may return to behaviours they have had when younger
- they may develop an unhealthy eating or sleeping habits
- they may avoid school or homework
- they may have difficulty focusing and concentrating
- they may have unexplained physical symptoms such as headaches and body ache
- they may feel isolated and away from their friends
To help them;
- it’s important to take some time to talk to your children to reassure them
- to limit how much discussion is had about what is going to happen with the corona virus situation as it unfolds
- keep your child in regular routines and focus on their learning and physical needs
- make sure they follow routines to their day in line with what their parents do
- if you are looking after or concern about elderly relatives or friends;
- Remember isolation in particular in this group should not result in social isolation.
- Older adults may get more anxious agitated and withdrawal during this period and so need more support with explanations and instructions.
- Exactly the same applies to these individuals as it does to you.
Useful advice is available at cdc.go
Dr Rajeev Dhar