coronavirus

Tips for coping with coronavirus anxiety

This information outlines some useful
strategies which can help both adults and
children cope with the stress or anxiety
experienced as a result of the coronavirus
outbreak.


Learn the facts
Constant media coverage about the coronavirus can keep us in a
heightened state of anxiety. Try to limit related media exposure
and instead seek out factual information from reliable sources
such as the Australian Government’s health alert or other trusted
organisations such as the World Health Organization.


Keep things in perspective
When we are stressed, it is easy to see things as worse than they
really are. Rather than imagining the worst-case scenario and
worrying about it, ask yourself:
• Am I getting ahead of myself, assuming something bad will
happen when I really don’t know the outcome? Remind yourself
that the actual number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in
Australia is extremely low.
• Am I overestimating how bad the consequences will be?
Remember, illness due to coronavirus infection is usually
mild and most people recover without needing specialised
treatment.
• Am I underestimating my ability to cope? Sometimes thinking
about how you would cope, even if the worst were to happen,
can help you put things into perspective.


Take reasonable precautions
Being proactive by following basic hygiene principles can keep
your anxiety at bay. The World Health Organization recommends a
number of protective measures against the coronavirus, including to:
• wash your hands frequently
• avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
• stay at home if you begin to feel unwell until you fully recover
• seek medical care early if you have a fever, cough or experience
breathing difficulties.

Practise self-care
To help encourage a positive frame of mind, it is important to look
after yourself. Everybody practises self-care differently with some
examples including:
• maintaining good social connections and communicating
openly with family and friends
• making time for activities and hobbies you enjoy
• keeping up a healthy lifestyle by eating a balanced diet,
exercising regularly, getting quality sleep and avoiding the use
of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs to cope with stress


Practising relaxation, meditation and mindfulness to give your
body a chance to settle and readjust to a calm state.


Tips for talking with children about the
coronavirus


Children will inevitably pick up on the concerns and anxiety of
others, whether this be through listening and observing what
is happening at home or at school. It is important that they can
speak to you about their own concerns.


Answer their questions
Do not be afraid to talk about the coronavirus with children.
Given the extensive media coverage and the increasing number of
people wearing face masks in public, it is not surprising that some
children are already aware of the virus.
Providing opportunities to answer their questions in an honest
and age-appropriate way can help reduce any anxiety they may be
experiencing. You can do this by:
• speaking to them about coronavirus in a calm manner
• asking them what they already know about the virus so you
can clarify any misunderstandings they may have
• letting them know that it is normal to experience some anxiety
when new and stressful situations arise
• giving them a sense of control by explaining what they can do
to stay safe (e.g., wash their hands regularly, stay away from
people who are coughing or sneezing)
• not overwhelming them with unnecessary information (e.g.,
death rates) as this can increase their anxiety
• reassure them that coronavirus is less common and severe in
children compared to adults
• allowing regular contact (e.g., by phone) with people they may
worry about, such as grandparents, to reassure them that they
are okay.


Talk about how they are feeling
Explain to your child that it is normal to feel worried about getting
sick. Listen to your child’s concerns and reassure them that you are
there to help them with whatever may arise in the future.
It is important to model calmness when discussing the
coronavirus with children and not alarm them with any concerns
you may have about it. Children will look to you for cues on how
to manage their own worries so it is important to stay calm and
manage your own anxieties before bringing up the subject with
them and answering their questions.


Limit media exposure
It is important to monitor children’s exposure to media reports
about the coronavirus as frequent exposure can increase their
level of fear and anxiety. Try to be with your child when they are
watching, listening or reading the news so you are able to address
any questions or concerns they may have.


More information
Australian Government Department of Health
The Department of Health has developed a collection of resources
for the general public, health professionals and industry about
coronavirus (COVID-19), including translated resources.
https://bit.ly/38OOwHe


Seek additional support when needed
If you feel that the stress or anxiety you or your child
experience as a result of the coronavirus is impacting on
everyday life, a psychologist may be able to help. Ask your psychologist or
GP for details.

This information summarized from The Australian Psychological Society https://www.psychology.org.au/getmedia/38073179-4701-48bd-afd9-988c560ee2f9/20APS-IS-COVID-19-P1.pdf

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