If you’ve been staring at the ceiling trying to fall asleep, while also worrying about the health risks to you, your family and loved ones while also considering how to navigate your career and finances due the current Covid-19 changes we are seeing in Australia and around the world, please know one thing. You are not alone.
You might be worrying about what you’ve heard on the news:
“Today there was an increase in active cases in Victoria.”
You might be worrying about what the neighbour said:
“Someone at my work place was tested for Covid.”
You might be wondering why your neighbour would tell you that in such a flippant tone and you might be regularly looking for information and following regular news updates on the Covid-19 numbers.
You might also be experiencing neck and shoulder tightness, headaches and dizziness and feeling nauseous.
The good news is that there is nothing seriously wrong with you if you are feeling like this. You may be experiencing some health anxiety and certainly the current environment that we find ourselves in can be a real trigger for some people to experience health anxiety.
The reality is, we are experiencing a change in global health where governments and people are having to change their behaviours for the sake of the overall safety of our population. We all need to be following the advice of our governments and medical bodies to reduce the risk of transmitting Covid-19 cases within our community so we can look after our vulnerable populations and aim for a return to “normal” life.
It’s recommended right now that we monitor and take measures to protect and in doing so, it can be challenging to not over-commit to this safety and over-commit to being vigilant as this can cause a state of anxiety in some people.
What is also really important to know is that what is happening right now is what we call a situational stressor, one that in time will pass, given the good work everyone is doing in following the advice to stay safe.
Understanding what a situational stressor is can be helpful in itself. This is because sometimes simply understanding something better can help relieve anxiety. A situational stress requires a situational response, a temporary plan that we will need to be relied on for a period of time.
It can be worrying not knowing for how long we will need this situational plan, however knowing there is a plan gives us a way to manage the worry in the interim. Reminding yourself that there is a plan when you are feeling worried can help.
However, there are a range of anxiety and mood disorders that can exist alongside and in addition to situational stresses and other medical conditions. Sometimes it is important to seek medical advice to clarify your physical health. An effective treatment for anxiety disorders or for those of us experiencing situational stress, is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. CBT is based on the premise that our thoughts about a situation effects how we feel and that this in turn determines how we behave. CBT will help you overcome fears by developing ways of correcting irrational thoughts and replacing them with more rational thoughts. This in turn, reduces the severity of anxious symptoms. Working together with a Psychologist trained in the CBT approach will lead to a reduction in symptoms in general and an improved overall mental health will be the result.
For you, if you are staring at the ceiling, trying to fall asleep, worrying, it might be time to talk to your GP or your psychologist about Cognitive Behavior Therapy to create a positive change in the way you are feeling.
Change can be really hard, and sometimes what’s really hard can also help us change for the better.
Written by: Karen Farrar, Psychologist, Proactive Health + Movement, Waurn Ponds, Victoria.