We all have daily worries and thoughts that can occasionally keep us up at night. During uncertain times, such as the one we are living through with the pandemic, these thoughts and worries tend to become highlighted. If left unchecked these may take over our lives, preventing us from carrying on with our usual tasks.
Will I lose somebody? Will my children’s education suffer? Is my job safe? When can I see my family and friends?
It is natural to be asking ourselves these questions. However, we must recognise when the worries and fears start to change our behaviour or affect our physical and mental health. Long-lasting anxiety which is not related to a specific event can lead to Generalised Anxiety Disorder or GAD.
With GAD everyday tasks become more tiring and difficult than usual. It may start to change our character and sometimes even lead to impulsive behaviour. When there is difficulty sleeping, problems start to feel worse than they are and there may also be physical pain from exhaustion. It may be hard to think straight, leading to difficulty in performing tasks, increased mistakes as well as forgetfulness both at home and at work. It may affect the level of care you are able to give yourself and others.
In order to control these thoughts, it may help to remember the facts:
- Protect yourself from covid by practising distancing and hygiene, and using proper mouth and nose covering
- Stay healthy by eating a balanced diet and getting some exercise to keep your immune system strong
- Most people who get coronavirus get better
- Scientists and other experts are working hard to improve our lives, to find treatment or prevention, and to help us live with the virus
- If you cannot see your family or friends, you can call them to check-in
- Talking things through with a family member or close friend can help you understand your fears
- Only get news from trusted sources and decrease the amount of time spent reading about the pandemic
- If you feel overwhelmed with worry or feel that you cannot cope, there are professionals you can talk to for help – you don’t need to face this alone
Don’t dismiss higher levels of anxiety on the fact that ‘everyone must be stressed right now’. Understand whether this anxiety is affecting your daily life, and your ability to take care of yourself and interact with others.
If you have doubts, or think you may be suffering from generalised anxiety disorder, it is a good idea to seek help. Remember that if you tackle GAD early, simple measures could already be enough for your mental well-being. Professionals take an all-round approach to your care, which means that you don’t necessarily need to take medication. If you do need medication, your doctor will make sure that you find the right medication to suit your needs while minimising side effects.
This approach will also help you in the future as you will be equipped with knowledge of how to recognise, tackle, or get help for your anxiety.
Generalised Anxiety Disorder. Mayo Clinic. October 2017. Accessed at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/generalized-anxiety-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20360803
Vindegaard N, Benros ME. COVID-19 pandemic and mental health consequences: Systematic review of the current evidence. Brain Behav Immun. 2020 May 30:S0889-1591(20)30954-5. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2020.05.048. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 32485289; PMCID: PMC7260522.