Looking after your mental health during the Corona Virus outbreak

22-April-20
Looking after your mental health during the Corona Virus outbreak
  • Minding Your Mental Health During the Coronavirus Outbreak

(taken from the HSE website 23/03/20)

Infectious disease outbreaks like coronavirus (COVID-19) can be worrying. This can affect your mental health. But there are many things you can do to mind your mental health during times like this.

How your mental health might be affected

The spread of coronavirus is a new and challenging event. Some people might find it more worrying than others. Try to remember that medical, scientific and public health experts are working hard to contain the virus.

Most people’s lives will change in some way over a period of days, weeks or months. But in time, it will pass.

You may notice some of the following:

  • increased anxiety
  • feeling stressed
  • finding yourself excessively checking for symptoms, in yourself, or others
  • becoming irritable more easily
  • feeling insecure or unsettled
  • fearing that normal aches and pains might be the virus
  • having trouble sleeping
  • feeling helpless or a lack of control
  • having irrational thoughts

If you are taking any prescription medications, make sure you have enough.

How to mind your mental health during this time

Keeping a realistic perspective of the situation based on facts is important. Here are some ways you can do this.

Stay informed but set limits for news and social media

The constant stream of social media updates and news reports about coronavirus could cause you to feel worried. Sometimes it can be difficult to separate facts from rumours. Use trustworthy and reliable sources to get your news.

On social media, people may talk about their own worries or beliefs. You don’t need to make them your own. Too much time on social media may increase your worry and levels of anxiety. Consider limiting how much time you spend on social media.

If you find the coverage on coronavirus is too intense for you, talk it through with someone close or get support.

Keep up your healthy routines

Your routine may be affected by the coronavirus outbreak in different ways. But during difficult times like this, it’s best if you can keep some structure in your day.

It’s important to pay attention to your needs and feelings, especially during times of stress. You may still be able to do some of the things you enjoy and find relaxing.

For example, you could try to:

Stay connected to others

During times of stress, friends and families can be a good source of support. It is important to keep in touch with them and other people in your life.

If you need to restrict your movements or self-isolate, try to stay connected to people in other ways, for example:

  • e-mail
  • social media
  • video calls
  • phone calls
  • text messages

Many video calling apps allow you to have video calls with multiple people at the same time.

Remember that talking things through with someone can help lessen worry or anxiety. You don't have to appear to be strong or to try to cope with things by yourself.

Talking to children and young people

Involving your children in your plans to manage this situation is important. Try to consider how they might be feeling.

Give children and young people the time and space to talk about the outbreak. Share the facts with them in a way that suits their age and temperament, without causing alarm.

Talk to your children about coronavirus but try to limit their exposure to news and social media. This is especially important for older children who may be spending more time online now. It may be causing anxiety.

Try to anticipate distress and support each other

It is understandable to feel vulnerable or overwhelmed reading or hearing news about the outbreak.

Acknowledge these feelings. Remind yourself and others to look after your physical and mental health. If you smoke or drink, try to avoid doing this any more than usual. It won’t help in the long-term.

Don’t make assumptions

Don’t judge people or make assumptions about who is responsible for the spread of the disease. The coronavirus can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, nationality or ethnicity. We are all in this together.

Online and phone supports

Face-to-face services are limited at the moment. But some services are providing online and phone services.

There are also many dedicated online services that can help.

Check all the services websites to see what online and phone supports are available.

OCD and coronavirus

If you have OCD, you may develop an intense fear of:

  • catching coronavirus
  • causing harm to others
  • things not being in order

Fear of being infected by the virus may mean you become obsessed with:

  • hand hygiene
  • cleanliness
  • avoiding certain situations, such as using public transport

Washing your hands

The compulsion to wash your hands or clean may get stronger. If you have recovered from this type of compulsion in the past, it may return.

Follow the advice to wash your hands properly and often, but you do not need to do more than recommended.

Things you can do to help:

  • ANXIETY- Information for Parents

    What is Anxiety?

    Anxiety is a normal and healthy reaction to a stressful situation. Feeling anxious is very common. All teenagers experience some amount of anxiety at times.

    Some anxiety or stress can be positive as it makes us more alert and helps us perform better. It can help us deal with tense or challenging situations. Young people often feel anxious when they are starting a new school, sitting an exam, competing in sporting events, public speaking, meeting new people, going on a date etc.

    Remember. It is okay if your son/daughter experiences some anxiety. You can reassure them that anxiety is normal and something they can cope with. Let them know that what they are feeling is okay and it is helpful to talk about how they are feeling.

    Anxiety is only healthy and helpful if it is short lived. It is a problem when your son/daughter is worried and anxious a lot of the time. It is also a problem when there is no obvious reason for them to feel anxious or stressed.

    You should be concerned when the anxiety that your son/daughter is experiencing is impacting significantly on their day to day functioning as follows:

    • they are too worried or anxious about insignificant situations
    • they are feeling constantly keyed up

    • when your coaxing or reassurance have no effect
    • they are over-sensitive and irritable
    • they have unexplained outbursts
    • they are restless and can’t concentrate
    • they are preoccupied and obsessed about a particular issue
    • they withdraw from friends, family, school, work, sports or other things that they usually enjoy
    • their sleep is disturbed sleep – either not getting enough or sleeping too much
    • they are eating less than normal or overeating
    • they don’t care about their personal appearance or personal responsibilities
    • their school work has deteriorated

    In these instances anxiety is not protecting them, but rather preventing them from fully participating in typical activities of daily life-school, friendships, academic performance.

    Causes of Anxiety

    There are many things that cause anxiety. Anxiety is individual i.e. what causes one person anxiety may not affect another.

    Symptoms of Anxiety

    Anxiety affects people in different ways. It can affect the way people feel (Physical Symptoms), think (Mental Symptoms) and behave (Behavioural Symptoms).

    The Physical Symptoms of anxiety can be very frightening. People often worry that there is something physically wrong with them.

    This worry increases the anxiety and causes symptoms like the following to worsen:

    Physical Symptoms

    · Racing heart

    · Shortness of breath

    · Dizziness

    · Tingling sensation, pins and needs (particularly in hands)

    · Blurred vision

    · Sound distortion

    · Nausea

    · Dry mouth, difficulty swallowing

    · Sweating or trembling

    · Headaches

    · Diarrhoea

    · Skin rashes or flare ups

    · Butterflies in stomach

    · Chest/stomach pains

    · Loss of appetite

    Behavioural Symptoms

    · Avoiding places

    · Avoiding people and social situations

    · Constantly seeking reassurance

    · Excessive drinking/smoking/eating

    · Difficulty sleeping/nightmares

    · Increased irritability

    Mental Symptoms

    · Difficulty concentrating

    · Difficulty making decisions

    · Forgetfulness

    · Distorted or irrational thoughts

    · Excessive worrying

    · Thinking negatively

    If your son/daughter experiences some of the above for a couple of weeks or longer, it’s important that you take action. Although it won’t happen overnight, your son/daughter can learn to manage and reduce their anxiety.

    How to Help Someone to Reduce their Anxious Feelings

    There is no single technique to manage anxiety. However there are a number of techniques that when used together will reduce anxiety. Remember change takes time. Be prepared for ups and downs.

    Remember the Basics!

    • Encourage your son/daughter to talk to friends, family, the Guidance Counsellor or teachers about how they are feeling
    • Encourage them to get enough sleep by leaving their phone/laptop outside their bedroom; avoiding caffeine and sugar before sleeping; avoiding long weekend lie-ins. A minimum of 8 to 9 hours sleep on school nights is recommended for teens
    • Explain to them that what they eat or drink can impact on how they feel. Avoid caffeine and energy drinks as they can increase anxious feelings. Avoid high sugar content foods as they may experience a sugar crash
    • Remind them that exercising will help them to release tension. It also causes the brain to release serotonin which is a hormone that can improve mood. It also will help them to sleep better
    • Explain to them that smoking, drinking or taking drugs are often used as a coping mechanism for anxiety but they in fact can make it worse.

    Identify the Triggers

    Try to encourage them to identify the triggers for their anxiety. By keeping a log of the following:

    • When and where do you feel anxious?
    • What makes the feelings worse?
    • What helps reduce the feelings?

    Positive Self-Talk

    As we go about our day, we say things to ourselves in our heads about the things that we or others do. This is called self-talk. We choose what we say to ourselves. It is likely that he/she is engaging in negative self-talk. When we are anxious we engage in faulty and irrational thinking which affects the way we feel and behave.

    Writing down their thoughts can be a starting point in identifying the negative thoughts. The next step is to challenge these negative thoughts by asking “Is this really true?” and the last step is to replace these negative thoughts with positive, more reassuring ones.

    Examples of positive thoughts are:

    • I am unique, I can be myself
    • I can try harder instead of giving up
    • I don’t have to be perfect. I can just try my best
    • I have done this before, I know I can do it again
    • I am not a fortune teller, I do not know what they are thinking

    You can also encourage them to start using the Thoughts Log.

    Practicing Relaxation

    Practicing relaxation creates the opposite effects to stress and anxiety. It lowers the heart rate, reduces blood pressure and the sweat gland and lowers arousal. There are many relaxation techniques and different things work for different people. By trying some of the following at home (there are lots of free downloadable Mindfulness and Relaxation apps) or attending a local class, your son/daughter can find out what works for them.

    • Yoga
    • Pilates
    • Meditation
    • Mindfulness
    • Muscular relaxation
    • Visualization
    • Body Focus
    • Deep Breathing Exercises

    Remember the Little Things

    The Little Things campaign was designed to remind us of the little things that make a big difference to how we feel. It's the little things that can help lift your mood. See below as well as www.HealthPromotion.ie for printed poster and postcard packs.

    Seek Help

    If anxiety is impacting on your son/daughters day-to-day life, they may need short term extra support.

    • Encourage them to talk to the Guidance Counsellor at school.
    • Encourage them to visit their GP who can support them or refer them on.
    • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is very effective in helping people manage anxiety.

    Thoughts Log

    When we are anxious we engage in faulty and irrational thinking which affects the way we feel and behave. Writing down your thoughts can be a starting point in identifying your negative thoughts. The next step is to challenge these negative thoughts by asking “Is this really true?” and the last step is to replace these negative thoughts with positive, more reassuring ones.

    NEGATIVE THOUGHT

    POSITIVE THOUGHT

    Thoughts Log

    NEGATIVE THOUGHT

    POSITIVE THOUGHT

    Thoughts Log

    NEGATIVE THOUGHT

    POSITIVE THOUGHT

  • ANXIETY – Information for Students

What is Anxiety?

Feeling anxious is a very common feeling that everyone experiences.

It is a normal and healthy response to a stressful situation, a danger or a threat.

Some anxiety or stress can be positive as it makes us more alert and helps us perform better. It can help us deal with tense or challenging situations like starting at post primary, sitting an exam, competing in sporting events, public speaking, meeting new people, going on a date etc. However it is only healthy and helpful if it is short lived.

Anxiety becomes a problem when there is no obvious reason why you feel anxious or stressed. It is also a problem if you are worried and anxious a lot of the time.

Causes of Anxiety

Anxiety is individual i.e. what causes you to be anxious may not affect your friends or members of your family in the same way or at all.

Symptoms of Anxiety

Anxiety affects people in different ways. It can affect the way you feel (Physical Symptoms), the way you think (Mental Symptoms) and the way you behave (Behavioural Symptoms).

The Physical Symptoms of anxiety can be very frightening. People often worry that they are ill or that there is something physically wrong with them. This worry increases the anxiety and causes symptoms like the following to worsen:

Physical Symptoms

· Racing heart

· Shortness of breath

· Dizziness

· Tingling sensation, pins and needs (particularly in hands)

· Blurred vision

· Sound distortion

· Nausea

· Dry mouth, difficulty swallowing

· Sweating or trembling

· Headaches

· Diarrhoea

· Skin rashes or flare ups

· Butterflies in stomach

· Chest/stomach pains

· Loss of appetite

Behavioural Symptoms

· Avoiding places

· Avoiding people and social situations

· Constantly seeking reassurance

· Excessive drinking/smoking/eating

· Difficulty sleeping/nightmares

· Increased irritability

Mental Symptoms

· Difficulty concentrating

· Difficulty making decisions

· Forgetfulness

· Distorted or irrational thoughts

· Excessive worrying

· Thinking negatively

If you experience some of the above for a couple of weeks or longer it’s important that you take action. You don’t have to feel like this. Remember anxiety is very common and can be reduced. Although it won’t happen overnight, you can learn to manage and reduce your anxiety.

Making Anxiety Grow – The Anxiety Monster!

Anxiety is like a hungry monster, the more you feed it, the more it grows! Anxiety can make you avoid doing things that you are afraid of or worried about. When you avoid something you will feel an immediate sense of relief but the next time you will find it even scarier. Avoiding things feeds anxiety and lowers your confidence because we build our confidence by seeing ourselves cope with and manage things. The key is to Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.

How to Reduce Anxious Feelings

There is no single technique to manage anxiety. However there are a number of things that you can do to reduce your anxiety. Remember change takes time. Be prepared for ups and downs.

Remember the Basics!

  • Talk to friends, family, the Guidance Counsellor or teachers about how you are feeling
  • Get enough sleep. Leave your phone/laptop outside the bedroom; avoid caffeine and sugar before sleeping; avoid long weekend lie-ins. A minimum of 8 to 9 hours sleep on school nights is recommended for teens
  • Have a healthy diet. What you eat or drink can impact on how you feel. Avoid caffeine and energy drinks as they can make you feel more anxious. Avoid high sugar content foods as you may experience a sugar crash
  • Keep active. Exercising will help you to release tension. It also causes the brain to release serotonin which is a hormone that can improve your mood. It also will help you sleep better
  • Avoid smoking, drinking or taking drugs. These are often used as a coping mechanism for anxiety but they in fact can make it worse.

Identify the Triggers

Try to identify the triggers for your anxiety and then try to identify what helps with the feelings. Keep a log of the following:

  • When and where do you feel anxious?
  • What makes the feelings worse?
  • What helps reduce the feelings?

Positive Self-Talk

As we go about our day, we say things to ourselves in our heads about the things that we or others do. This is called self-talk. We choose what we say to ourselves. It is likely that you are engaging

in negative self-talk. When we are anxious we engage in faulty and irrational thinking which affects the way we feel and behave.

Writing down your thoughts can be a starting point in identifying your negative thoughts. The next step is to challenge these negative thoughts by asking “Is this really true?” and the last step is to replace these negative thoughts with positive, more reassuring ones. See Thoughts Log.

Examples of positive thoughts:

  • I am unique, I can be myself
  • I can try harder instead of giving up
  • I don’t have to be perfect. I can just try my best
  • I have done this before, I know I can do it again
  • I am not a fortune teller, I do not know what they are thinking

Relaxation Techniques

There are many relaxation techniques and different things work for different people. Practicing relaxation creates the opposite effects to stress and anxiety. It lowers the heart rate, reduces blood pressure and the sweat gland and lowers arousal. There are many relaxation techniques and different things work for different people. By trying some of the following at home (there are lots of free downloadable Mindfulness and Relaxation apps) or attending a local class, you can find what works for you.

  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness
  • Muscular relaxation
  • Visualization
  • Body Focus
  • Deep Breathing Exercises

Remember the Little Things

The Little Things campaign was designed to remind us of the little things that make a big difference to how we feel. It's the little things that can help lift your mood. See below as well as www.HealthPromotion.ie.

Distraction

It may help to stop thinking about how you are feeling and distract yourself. Focus on what is going on around you – for example if you are in a car, walking etc. and feeling anxious count how many blue cars you see or how many people wearing red etc.

Keep active - Go for walks, do sports, cycle.

Engage the mind in mental games e.g. spell words, count backwards, say the words of a song.

Take Control of your Worries

Remind yourself that although worrying is normal, it is pointless. Instead of wasting your time worrying, take 10 minutes to write down everything you are worried about. Your worries will seem less scary when they are written down and you won’t have to think about them for a while. If you start worrying again, check if what you are worrying about is already written down. If it is not, jot it down. Alternatively if a worry comes into your mind, don’t fight it, rather Notice it, Name it (“I am worrying about X”) and Let it go. By doing this you are refusing to give power to your worries. You will need to practice this.

Problem-Solving

This can help to reduce worries and alleviate stress.

  1. Write down what the problem is
  2. Think of all the possible solutions to the problem
  3. Look at the pros and cons of each solution
  4. Pick the solution that is best and try it
  5. After implementing it, ask yourself Did it work?
  6. If it didn’t move on to the next solution.

Where Can You Get Support

If anxiety is impacting on your day-to-day life, you may need short term extra support.

  • Talk to your friends and family

And/Or

  • Talk to the Guidance Counsellor at school

And/Or

  • Talk to your GP who can support you or refer you on for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which is very effective in helping people manage anxiety

And/Or

And/Or

  • Download a Mindfulness and/or Relaxation App.

Enquire
Contact
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Wedgewood,
Dublin 16,
Co. Dublin,

01 2955 483


Location
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