Health anxiety in a Covid culture
Isn’t if funny how long ago it was that we were hearing the initial news about Coronavirus? Or does it feel like it was just yesterday? Either way, we’ve been hearing about it for a little over a year now and it’s fair to say that the levels of anxiety across the global population have definitely been affected. Our awareness of our own health, and that of our loved ones, has certainly increased, as has the surrounding anxiety. While this is totally normal to feel stressed or anxious, it’s also important to gain perspective on what in particular may be causing it. And not let it ruin an enjoyable summer!
A sense of uncertainty and feeling overwhelmed by Covid-19 is a natural response - the global pandemic has affected us in ways we couldn’t have imagined a couple of years ago. And unfortunately, it is safe to say that a pandemic is a fertile ground for those who suffer from anxiety. As the news continued to roll the frightening statistics and spread across the World, many found themselves glued to updates. A dark hole to fall into, which ultimately leads to catastrophising and extremely high levels of concern. Then we saw the closing of borders, the cancellation of mass gatherings and then the lockdown restrictions. Anxiety levels were through the roof.
Now, in 2021, things are slightly different. Governments have responded, systems have been put in place to support us, and a vaccine has been created. That doesn’t mean the anxiety has just disappeared. A recent poll of university students in the UK found that 1 in 3 are still anxious about catching and spreading the virus to others. While the virus affects us physically if we were to get it, Covid is impacting our mental health in a big way.
Everyone’s emotional and mental wellbeing is important. It’s normal to feel anxious or stressed in times of difficulty, particularly towards your health and that of those who are important to you. However, there are lots of things you can do to feel better. And one of the first steps? Realising and recognising you are not alone. Acknowledging your feelings is an crucial step too. Whether that is by journaling, talking about them to others or simply sitting with those feelings for a little while to process them each day, its a key step. Meanwhile, reaching out to others and checking in on those who are important will help ease your concerns, particularly if you keep it regular. And crucially, limit your time online or accessing media surrounding the pandemic.
On the other hand, here are some practical, handy tips which can help you to negotiate your time while out and about, to support you making the most of the summer.
Maintain excellent hand washing practices, particularly when preparing food, meeting people and using the bathroom.
Carry hand sanitiser in your bag or pocket for use as often as you feel necessary.
Visit shops and the supermarket as early or late in the day as possible, that way you’ll avoid the busy midday times.
If you prefer, utilise a face covering if that will ease your concerns about being in crowded areas.
Keep a log of your movements, whether on a tracer app or on paper, so you have a comprehensive diary.
So whether you are receiving your government guidelines for the summer season from remixed summer anthems at music festivals, or the daily briefings on TV or online wherever you are, there can be no doubt that the advice is there to help you feel safe and at ease that what can be done, is being done. That doesn’t mean your anxiety is unwarranted, that the scary nature of this time is being under estimated, it is simply a nod to the possibility of brighter times ahead. With these little steps we can take in the meantime, and the vaccine on the horizon, let’s hope that those come round soon.
If the content of this article has struck a chord with you and you’d like to read more on the subject of anxiety, we have more articles which may interest you on the oVRcome blog. Why not have a read of Georgia's article which offers Tips to stop worrying about the unknown?