By Dave Casey
Misinformation during a health crisis can spread anxiety and fear. Knowing the facts is key to being properly prepared, according to David Casey, Wellness Manager at DeCare.
The World Health Organisation is encouraging people to seek information from legitimate sources only, stating we need to connect safely with those who are isolated, and to curb exposure to news that makes them anxious or distressed.
The sudden and near-constant stream of new reports about Covid-19 can cause anyone to feel worried. Facts minimise fear and accessing only reliable information can help to ease anxiety and aid in the promotion of positive mental health.
Emotions such as anxiety are important, as they orient us towards a threat and help us decide what to do next.
Factual information keeps us informed as the situation develops. However, checking your phone every five minutes to monitor developments can only serve to increase your anxiety. Take breaks from watching, reading or listening to news stories.
Fear and anxiety can keep us healthy and safe but also can be harmful to our health. It’s important to ask ourselves how we manage that fear. Look at fact-based sources, such as the Department of Health, WHO and HSE websites. Fear can lead to stigma and mark people out as different, therefore preventing them from seeking medical help. It is important not to attach or feed wording leading to discrimination in any ethical group, Covid-19 is now a global issue affecting everyone.
We need to keep empathy and kindness in our minds as we hear about new cases and numbers. These are people, families and loved ones in our community. While following the World Health Organisation guidelines of maintaining a social distance, people should safeguard against becoming socially isolated. We need to be mindful of people who may be feeling alone.
While you may not be able to make physical contact with a person who is feeling isolated or alone, it’s really important to still reach out to someone who might be isolated, vulnerable or identified as being in an at-risk group. Video calls, phone calls and social media platforms are all ways of safe social contact.
Older adults and people with underlying conditions can be supported and encouraged to do regular exercising, cleaning, daily chores, as well as fun activities such as singing, painting. It is also important to have a plan in place if practical help is needed like calling a taxi, having food delivered or requesting medical care.
Awareness and Connections
Evidence shows that good relationships with family, friends, colleagues and the wider community are all important for mental wellbeing. Make time each day to connect with your family, friends and colleagues through calls, video and messaging apps. Ensure to check on elderly neighbours and if they need anything, while adhering to social distancing.
There are lots of things we can do each day to mind our mental health in these challenging times. Being kind to ourselves and being kind to others around us is key at the moment.
The saying ‘You can’t change the direction of the wind but you can adjust your sails’ is particularly apt right now. By staying positive and focusing on what we can directly impact can make us better able to get through any low points. This includes talking about what’s going on in your life, eating well, getting plenty of sleep, keeping active and keeping a focus on being kind and compassionate.
Remember, we will get through this. In these tough times, we need to place focus on protecting ourselves, our loved ones and our communities. The key with these unprecedented challenges is that we face it together.
Stay safe, spread the word, not the disease.