As news about coronavirus (COVID-19) dominate the headlines and public concern is on the rise, taking care of your mental health is as important as looking after your physical health. Good mental health and positive wellbeing can help you better cope with the COVID-19 threat and the uncertainty it’s creating.

There are many ways to keep a sense of control in order to ease coronavirus anxiety:

1.Seek accurate information from legitimate sources

Limit yourself to reading information only from official sources like the World Health Organisation (WHO),. These credible sources of information are key to avoid the fear and panic that misinformation may cause.

Watch WHO’s Q&A on mental health during COVID-19 >>

2.Set limits around news on COVID-19

Try to avoid excessive exposure to media coverage. Constant monitoring of news updates and social media feeds about COVID-19 can intensify feelings of worry and distress. Consider turning off automatic notifications and taking a break from the news. Setting boundaries to how much news you read, watch or listen will allow you to focus on your life and actions over which you have control, as opposed to wondering ‘what if?’. WHO advises seeking factual information mainly to take practical steps to prepare your plans and protect yourself and loved ones.  While social media can sometimes be helpful, sites like Facebook and Twitter also place us into filter bubbles, often amplify the most extreme voices, and are fervent breeding grounds for conspiracy theories and misinformation. If you find yourself growing more anxious reading them, put down your phone or step away from your computer.

Read WHO’s Mental Health Considerations during COVID-19 Outbreak >>

3.Look after yourself

Self-care in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak includes focusing on things you can control (like having good hygiene) instead of those you cannot (stopping the virus). Where possible, maintain your daily routine and normal activities: eating healthy meals, getting enough sleep and doing things that you enjoy. Consider creating a daily routine that prioritise your wellbeing and positive mental health. Activities, like taking a walk, meditating or exercising, can help you to relax and will have a positive impact on your thoughts and feelings

It is particularly important for health care workers to take care of their basic needs and ensure good rest between shifts due to overtime hours or work overload in the time of crisis.

4. Reach out to others and support people around you

In anxious times such as this, utilizing your support network can be very helpful, just be sure that you reach out to people who will give you support as opposed to amplify your stress . Keep in touch with your friends, and talk about other topics (like pop culture) so you’re not just exchanging and amplifying each other’s worries. If you find that your anxiety is interfering with your work, school or interpersonal relationships, you should consider reaching out to a mental health professional, like a therapist or psychologist.Reach out to others and support people around you

Keeping in touch with your friends and family may ease the stress caused by COVID-19. Talking through your concerns and feelings may help you find ways of dealing with challenges. Receiving support and care from others can bring a sense of comfort and stability. Assisting other people in their time of need and reaching out to someone who may be feeling alone or concerned can benefit both the person receiving support as well as the helper.

5. Maintain a sense of hope and positive thinking

Try and focus on things that are positive in your life. WHO recommends to find opportunities to amplify the voices, positive stories and positive images of local people who have experienced the novel coronavirus and have recovered or who have supported a loved one through recovery and are willing to share their experience.

6.Acknowledge your feelings

It is normal to feel overwhelmed, stressed, anxious or upset, among a wide range of other emotional reactions, in the current situation. Allow yourself time to notice and express what you’re feeling. This could be by writing them down in a journal, talking to others, doing something creative, or practising meditation.

7. Take time to talk with your children about the COVID-19 outbreak

It is equally important to help children cope with stress and protect them from any coronavirus hysteria. Answer their questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that children can understand. Respond to your child’s reactions in a supportive way, listen to their concerns and give them extra care, attention and support. Reassure your children that they are safe. Let them know it is OK if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope with you.

Read WHO’s recommendations on how to help children cope with stress during COVID-19 >> >>

8.Ask for professional support

Follow protection and prevention recommendations provided by qualified health professionals. If all of this does not help, consider reaching out for support by a professional counsellor or peersPeer support is usually organised on a local or national basis so it is best to start your search with those in your local area so that you can actually talk with someone who knows what is available.

There is a wide range of measures to tackle coronavirus anxiety and protect your mental health and that of your loved ones. Keep in mind that this pandemic will pass and that there is always help available. Taking proactive measures can help manage your mental health during these times of uncertainty.

The biggest takeaway of this health crisis,  is that we need to take care of ourselves. Maintaining balance in daily life and not letting your day be consumed by the  next headline is important to maintain perspective in the uncertainty of daily life.