Ask Dr Sarah: How Can I Deal With Anxiety Related To Coronavirus?

"How am I supposed to feel better when everyone in the world is going through this?"

Do you have a personal problem that you need help with? KISS.ie is here to help, with Dr Sarah, a clinical child psychologist specialising in adolescent issues.

Dear Sarah,

I am so anxious about the coronavirus. I see so many bad stories online about deaths and people suffering and I don’t know what’s real and what’s not because I heard a lot about fake news. I’m not sleeping well because I lie awake reading social media stories that are scary, and even if I put down my phone I can’t sleep because I’m so anxious. How am I supposed to feel better when everyone in the world is going through this and it’s not just a silly problem I made up in my head?

Anon, Kildare.

Sarah says: “Well done for recognising that there is a problem. This is the first step to bringing about change. This is not a ‘silly problem’ in your head; everyone reacts differently in a crisis, and there is no right or wrong way to feel. Anxiety and stress are normal in these uncertain times and there are lots of things you can do to help manage your worries.”

“While it’s important to keep informed and up-to-date about Covid19, it’s easy to over-do social media to the point where it makes you worried and confused, and starts interfering with your sleep and enjoyment of like. These are strange times and there’s a lot of scary information out there; some of it true and some not. The more you read, the greater the chance that you’ll read ‘fake’ news; in other words ‘made up’, exaggerated or heavily biased in favour of the writer’s opinion.”

“It’s a good idea to stick to reputable and impartial sources for your ‘real’ information; the HSE and Department of Health websites are factual and updated regularly. Try to limit reading about the virus in general and balance it out with enjoyable and relaxing activities such as connecting with friends, mindfulness, exercise, and reading. Sleep is vital to our wellbeing and it sounds like you’re not getting enough quality sleep at the moment. Everything looks worse when you’re tired so try to focus on establishing a good sleep pattern; the HSE website has a ‘Good Sleep Guide’ which is really practical and helpful.”

“A golden rule is don’t look at your phone or laptop in bed. Jigsaw.ie has a whole range of online resources for young people including a section on anxiety and ways to manage it. While it is completely normal to feel anxious, worried or stressed at a time like this, if you find that your anxiety is escalating, you should ask your GP for a referral to your local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).”


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