Psychology expert gives advice on coping with the coronavirus Covid-19 ‘anxiety pandemic’

Michaela O'Dea

Reporter:

Michaela O'Dea

coronavirus covid-19

Psychology experts suggest that as the country moves through national crisis, Irish citizens may be feeling their own "anxiety pandemic".

Acquired Brain Injury Ireland’s Principal Clinical Neuropsychologist Dr Brian Waldron shares expert advice on coping with COVID-19 and the ‘anxiety pandemic’ that threatens alongside the national health crisis.

In an address to the nation, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar referred to ‘fear as a virus in itself’ and he urged the public to take regular breaks from watching news.

Dr Waldron echoes the advise of the Taoiseach as he explained that “everyone of us will experience significant anxiety and stress during the coming weeks”.

With a rapidly changing daily news cycle on the Coronavirus situation in Ireland and worldwide, Acquired Brain Injury Ireland’s neuropsychologist advises limiting exposure to news stories or images and avoiding 24-hour news running as a background to your day.

Dr. Waldron stated that “one way to contain the anxiety pandemic, is to limit your exposure to graphic news stories or images by not watching 24-hours news all day and night. Choose a trusted source for information and stick to it. ”

The rise of Covid-19 throughout Ireland has caused many to experience the 'anxiety pandemic'. From disrupted sleep, to waking at night, to unusual dreams and a new wave of economic and financial worry, Covid-19 has affected a notable proportion of Irish people. 

Dr. Waldron proposes a worry period as a positive medium for dealing with anxiety. During this time in their day people can control their introspection and speculation about  the current crisis. It is suggested to keep this time to a strict 30-40 minute window, beneficially in the evening time. 

During the day, people are urged to refrain from worrying and engaging in these negative thoughts, bank the thought until later and explore its meaning during your worry time. 

Journaling your thoughts, fears and positive actions that you are going to take will act as a guide for the coming days.

As the nation continues to adapt to social distancing rules and with normal socialising routines broken, Dr Waldron reminds everyone that it’s important to make an extra effort to pick up the phone and stay in touch with your loved ones. 

Tips from Acquired Brain Injury Ireland’s Dr Brian Waldron on coping with COVID:

  • Set a worry period each day for no more than 30 or 40 minutes and write down thoughts or actions you can take.
  • Practicing stress reduction techniques such as mindfulness meditations can help.
  • Limit your exposure to news stories or images.
  • Stay busy, both mentally and physically.
  • Talk to your family and friends and share your thoughts and feelings.
  • Keep a normal daily routine as much as possible such as sticking to your usual mealtimes and bedtimes.
  • Avoid excessive amounts of caffeine or alcohol as these will exacerbate disrupted sleep.
  • Getting exercise can help boost your mood and clear your head. A brief walk while social distancing is good.
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