return icon Vietnamnet.vn

Coronavirus: How to protect your mental health

Advice on protecting your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak.

{keywords}
 

Coronavirus has plunged the world into uncertainty and the constant news about the pandemic can feel relentless. All of this is taking its toll on people's mental health, particularly those already living with conditions like anxiety and OCD. So how can we protect our mental health?

Being concerned about the news is understandable, but for many people it can make existing mental health problems worse.

When the World Health Organization released advice on protecting your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak, it was welcomed on social media.

As Anxiety UK's Nicky Lidbetter explains, the fear of being out of control and unable to tolerate uncertainty are common characteristics of many anxiety disorders. So it's understandable that many individuals with pre-existing anxiety are facing challenges at the moment.

"A lot of anxiety is rooted in worrying about the unknown and waiting for something to happen - coronavirus is that on a macro scale," agrees Rosie Weatherley, spokesperson for mental health charity Mind. 

So how can we protect our mental health?

Limit the news and be careful what you read

Reading lots of news about coronavirus has led to panic attacks for Nick, a father-of-two from Kent, who lives with anxiety.

"When I'm feeling anxious my thoughts can spiral out of control and I start thinking about catastrophic outcomes," he says. Nick is worried about his parents and other older people he knows.

"Usually when I suffer I can walk away from a situation. This is out of my control," he says.

Having long periods away from news websites and social media has helped him to manage his anxiety. He has also found support helplines, run by mental health charities such as AnxietyUK, useful.

  • Limit the amount of time you spend reading or watching things which aren't making you feel better. Perhaps decide on a specific time to check in with the news
  • There is a lot of misinformation swirling around - stay informed by sticking to trusted sources of information such as government and NHS websites

Have breaks from social media and mute things which are triggering

Alison, 24, from Manchester, has health anxiety and feels compelled to stay informed and research the subject. But at the same time she knows social media can be a trigger.

"A month ago I was clicking on hashtags and seeing all this unverified conspiracy rubbish and it would make me really anxious and I would feel really hopeless and cry," she says.

Now she is careful about which accounts she tunes into and is avoiding clicking on coronavirus hashtags. She is also trying hard to have time away from social media, watching TV or reading books instead.

Wash your hands - but not excessively

OCD Action has seen an increase in support requests from people whose fears have become focused on the coronavirus pandemic.

For people with OCD and some types of anxiety, being constantly told to wash your hands can be especially difficult to hear.

For Lily Bailey, author of Because We Are Bad, a book about living with OCD, fear of contamination was one aspect of her obsessive compulsive disorder. She says the advice about hand washing can be a huge trigger for people who have recovered.

"It's really difficult because I now have to do some of the behaviours that I've been avoiding," says Bailey. "I'm sticking to the advice really rigidly but it's hard, considering that for me, soap and sanitiser used to be something comparable to an addiction."

Charity OCD Action says the issue to look out for is the function - for example, is the washing being carried out for the recommended amount of time to reduce the risk of spreading of the virus - or is it being done ritualistically in a specific order to feel "just right"?

Bailey points out that for a lot of people with OCD, getting better means being able to leave the house - so self-isolating can present another challenge.

"If we're forced to stay at home, we have lots of time on our hands, and boredom can make OCD worse," she says.

Stay connected with people

Increasing numbers will join those already in self-isolation so now might be a good time to make sure you have the right phone numbers and email addresses of the people you care about.

"Agree regular check-in times and feel connected to the people around you," says Weatherley.

If you're self-isolating, strike a balance between having a routine and making sure each day has some variety.

It might end up actually feeling like quite a productive two weeks. You could work through your to-do list or read a book you'd been meaning to get to.

Avoid burnout

With weeks and months of the coronavirus pandemic ahead, it is important to have down time. Mind recommends continuing to access nature and sunlight wherever possible. Do exercise, eat well and stay hydrated.

  • Acknowledge:

    Notice and acknowledge the uncertainty as it comes to mind.
  • Pause:

    Don't react as you normally do. Don't react at all. Pause and breathe.
  • Pull back:

    Tell yourself this is just the worry talking, and this apparent need for certainty is not helpful and not necessary. It is only a thought or feeling. Don't believe everything you think. Thoughts are not statements or facts.
  • Let go:

    Let go of the thought or feeling. It will pass. You don't have to respond to them. You might imagine them floating away in a bubble or cloud.
  • Explore:

    Explore the present moment, because right now, in this moment, all is well. Notice your breathing and the sensations of your breathing. Notice the ground beneath you. Look around and notice what you see, what you hear, what you can touch, what you can smell. Right now. Then shift your focus of attention to something else - on what you need to do, on what you were doing before you noticed the worry, or do something else - mindfully with your full attention.

BBC

MORE NEWS

French Development Agency pledges more support for projects in Vietnam

The French Development Agency (AFD) will increase its support and donations for projects funded by French non-governmental organisations and associations in Vietnam.

Vietnam seeks stronger education partnership with US

Minister of Education Nguyen Kim Son on September 25 concluded his US working trip that aimed to strengthen education partnership between the two countries.

VIETNAM NEWS HEADLINES SEPTEMBER 25

Central localities likely to be hit by typhoon Noru

AI integration the inevitable path ahead

Big Data and AI will be the optimal tools to run factories in the future and digital transition will help firms optimise costs and cut emissions.

Ministry to scrutinise VietGap certifications after fake labels found on vegetables

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is investigating reports of vegetables sold in supermarkets being marked with fake Vietnamese Good Agricultural Practices (VietGap) labels.

E-commerce sector in dire need of qualified candidates

The tight supply of qualified candidates in the labour market is a glaring issue facing e-commerce firms, according to insiders.

Unique green moss-covered homes of the Tay Con Linh mountain range

It is an ideal environment for plants to flourish and thrive, including thick green moss, which ethnic people use to cover the palm-leaf roofs of their homes.

Farmers save wild birds and the environment

Farmers in different provinces throughout Việt Nam have for years spent time and effort to save wild birds, giving them a home to nest and lay eggs.

Deputy PM highlights significance of int'l solidarity, cooperation at UN session

The strengthening of international solidarity and cooperation is key to addressing interlocking global challenges, affirmed Permanent Deputy PM Pham Binh Minh while addressing the general debate of the 77th Session of the UN General Assembly.

Huge potential for luxury real estate in Vietnam

The branded residence market is gaining a stronger foothold in the Vietnamese market with potential to further develop, shaping the lifestyle of the country’s elite, according to experts.

VIETNAM BUSINESS NEWS SEPTEMBER 25

Action plan to promote green growth in agriculture

Vietnam’s economic growth counts on high-tech FDI

Vietnam’s economic growth has been accelerating in 2022, with experts considering high-tech foreign investments as a driver.

The “seven-star” islands in Quang Ninh

Along with crystal blue sea and beaches, the 7 Sao (seven star) islands also have caves and primeval forests.

Customs you only see in Vietnam

The travel site Culture Trip has listed a number of Vietnamese customs that often surprise foreign tourists:

Investors and buyers play waiting game in credit switch

The State Bank of Vietnam finally created extra credit room for some banks on September 7. However, the extension is deemed low and may not help real estate businesses and homebuyers access feasible capital sources for their projects.
back_to_top