Managing Anxiety in a COVID World

22nd November 2021

By Pam Jenkinson (NLC Project worker)

COVID-19 has had a major impact on the physical health of millions of people around the world, but also significantly on people’s mental health. Anxiety is one of the root problems many people are dealing with and within our Night Light Cafes this is one of the primary reasons we have found, as to why some of our guests don’t feel able to attend in person just yet. 

Speaking within my own friendship groups, there has definitely been a divide between those who have felt they have been able to get back out there (safely as possible) and those who still remain extremely cautious and have real anxiety about mixing with people and leaving the security of their own houses. 

For some, going back out and mixing with other people is a concept filled with fear and anxiety. Despite vaccines and a decrease in disease prevalence, some people experience what some scientists are calling COVID-19 anxiety syndrome.

Symptoms of this syndrome mimic those of other mental health conditions, including anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). According to two top UK Psychiatrists, this syndrome manifests as the inability to leave the house because of COVID-19 fears, frequent checking for symptoms despite not being in a high-risk scenario, and avoiding social situations or people.

The NHS’s advice on this is as follows; It’s important to remember it’s OK to feel this way and that everyone reacts differently. For most of us, these difficult feelings will pass’.  On their NHS website they give 9 tips on how to manage some of this anxiety:-

  1. Stay connected with people:-  Maintaining healthy relationships with people we trust is important for our mental wellbeing. We all need to feel connected, so keep in touch – whether it’s with people you see often or reconnecting with old friends.
  2. Talk about your worries:- The COVID-19 outbreak is unlike anything we have experienced before, and it’s normal if you have felt worried, scared or helpless. The Night Light phone number is 0300 111 1200 and volunteers are available to chat through your worries every evening between 4 – 11pm
  3. Support and help others:- Helping someone else can benefit you as well as them. Having an understanding of other people’s concerns, worries or behaviour is a great way to show your support. 
  4. Look after your body  – Our physical health has a big impact on our mental wellbeing. If we are not feeling good, it can be easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour that end up making us feel worse. Start by taking a short walk in your neighbourhood
  5. Stick to the facts -There is still lots of information circulating about COVID-19, but sometimes this might feel overwhelming or conflicting. Try not to overwatch news stories, which often are biased
  6. Stay on top of difficult feelings – Try to focus on the things you can control, such as your behaviour, who you speak to, and where and how often you get information.
  7. Do things you enjoy – focus on positive activities. Do things which make you happy!
  8. Focus on the present  – Focusing on the present, rather than worrying about the future, can help with difficult emotions and improve our wellbeing.
  9.  Look after your sleep – Good-quality sleep makes a big difference to how we feel mentally and physically, so it’s important to get enough.

The Night Light Cafe is open to anyone, especially those who may be feeling anxious right now.  If you are not ready yet to join others, we do offer a phone service where you can talk about how you are feeling. Some of our cafes are often quite quiet, so it is also good to ask which ones they are and maybe visiting one of these would be a good starting point. 

Just remember, you are not alone in this – we are only a phone call, message or cafe away from you.  To access this service, or to refer someone for support from Night Light, please call 0300 011 1200 or email nightlight@actstrust.org.uk. You can also find us on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/nightlightcafelincoln 

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