Anxiety can manifest in many ways

While anxiety can manifest in many ways, often it is at a time when great additional stressors are applied to your life that it is heightened. When crises in the news are reported one after each other, such as COVID, wars, or natural disasters like flooding, it can elevate anxiety further. Professor Jennie Hudson, Head of Research at Black Dog Institute, provides the following advice for coping with anxiety in times of global crisis.

While at times of disruption and crisis we don’t feel like keeping our normal routines, and we may feel compelled to do something to help, Professor Hudson emphasizes the importance of routine, along with the following tips:

  • Try to keep in your routine as much as possible – our brains are wired to cope better when they know what is happening next. While there may not be things we can control, if we attempt to stick to those we can, it can relieve a little of those unsettled feelings.
  • Turn the news off – if the unsettling stressors are coming from things on the news you may feel compelled to digest every update. Instead, keep informed but try to stay away from the news for large parts of the day so you are not constantly in a stressful state of mind. This helps you to work out what is the real threat and what you have to deal with that day.
  • Think of the strategies you use to calm down in smaller stressful moments – your mind has already worked out some things to help, so use these strategies again in larger moments of crisis. This may be reading a book, going for a walk or catching up with friends.
  • Sleep well – Keep your sleep routine as strong as it can be. We know how important sleep is for being able to manage stress, so go to bed at your usual time, limit stimulants before bed time and avoid anything that elevates your stress such as watching the news or reading about details of your stressful situation.
  • Exercise – this is proven to help de-stress bodies and take minds off stressful situations.
  • Use social supports – contact friends or family members and talk through your concerns.

Remember if you need to get support, reach out and do so. You can visit your GP, call crisis helplines or seek digital support tools such as:

  • myCompass – a free, online self-help program to help you build good mental health using evidence-based strategies.
  • HeadGear – a free smartphone app that guides you through a 30-day mental fitness challenge designed to build resilience and wellbeing, backed by research.
  • Headspace – a mindfulness app to help you learn meditation and mindfulness skills with daily guided activities
  • Smiling Mind – a non-for-profit web and app-based meditation program developed by psychologists and educators.
  • THIS WAY UP – Self-paced online programs that teach clinically-proven strategies to help improve mood.