Coping with fear and stress around COVID-19

The current COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t only affected us physically, but also psychologically. Many of us are facing challenges that can be stressful and overwhelming. It’s natural to feel stress, anxiety, grief, and worry during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learning to cope with stress in a healthy way will help us deal with the pandemic a bit better. Here are some ways to manage this stress.

Stay informed

Fake news can cause unnecessary stress and anxiety for people. It’s important to use and share reliable sources of information on COVID-19 related news.

While it’s important to stay informed, you should limit the time spent on social media and watching the news. Information overload can actually worsen your reaction to stress and anxiety.

When should I seek help?

Overcoming reactions to stress and anxiety is possible. However, the following may be signs that your mental health is deteriorating:

Physical symptoms

Feelings of suffocation, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, nausea

Major sleep problems

Excessive weight loss

Low energy and fatigue

Psychological and emotional symptoms

Feeling panicked when you hear talk of the virus

Loss of pleasure and interest in activities that you usually enjoy

Behavioural symptoms

Difficulty in carrying out daily tasks

Avoiding anyone from outside the home because of fear of being infected

Obsessively monitoring COVID-19 symptoms

Irritability and aggression, conflict with other members of the household

Alcohol, drug and medication abuse

Take care of yourself

Be mindful of your feelings, emotions and reactions and allow yourself to voice them to someone you trust. Write them down or express them through physical or other types of activity.

Practice healthy living habits and get enough rest.

Distract yourself by listening to music, taking a warm bath, reading, and connecting with friends virtually. All these form part of self-care which is good for your mental health during this time.

Remember to continue with routine preventive measures (such as hand-washing and wearing a mask). You should also consider registering for the COVID-19 vaccine if you’re eligible, to better protect yourself and your family.

You can reach out to me or mental health organisations such as SADAG on 0800 21 22 23 and Lifeline on 0861 322 322, who can offer additional support during this time.

Remember, if you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send a Facebook message or a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).