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We are currently living in uncertain times, and our daily lives are not what we would consider ‘the norm’. With businesses shut, schools closed and the population being advised to stay at home, it is understandable that for people with anxiety disorders, this can be an incredibly overwhelming time.

Tanya Dharamshi, clinical director and counselling psychologist at Priory Wellbeing Centre in Dubai said: “Anxiety can be a helpful and protective emotion, and is a response to threat or danger – it can also become counterproductive and damaging if it is excessive or prolonged”. She added: “The current coronavirus pandemic will be a significant cause of concern for many people, but for those who suffer from acute anxiety, it could exacerbate their condition so it becomes more debilitating.”

We have looked at ways you can manage your anxiety at this time so that you are able to take care of your mental health and wellbeing.

How to look after your mental health during this time

If you are starting to notice that your anxious thoughts are becoming overwhelming, there are some techniques you can use to help manage these symptoms:

  • Practise relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and mindfulness: Learning to practise relaxation techniques when you are feeling stressed or anxious can refocus your mind away from your anxious thoughts. You can also relax with activities such as exercise, taking a walk, reading, listening to music or talking to someone you are close to. 
  • Embrace the opportunity to reflect on the positive impact of a slower paced life: Give yourself the opportunity to ‘switch-off’. Try to be consciously present with your family and engage in joyful activities with them.
  • Try and get outside while remaining at a safe distance from others: It will also give you some fresh air, much needed vitamin D as well as a change of scenery, which can help to lift your mood. A healthy body really does help encourage a healthy mind.
  • Get dressed for the day and maintain intention: If you are not working, write down a daily schedule to avoid the ‘drifting’ sense of the days. Work hard to maintain a mind-set of purpose and meaning. This can also help foster a sense of accomplishment, moving our mind away from anxiety and uncertainty.
  • Try to develop and stick to a set daily structure: If you are working from home, try to stick to your regular work schedule. And, if you are at home, looking after children, try going for a walk every day after breakfast, playing games after lunch and getting everyone to help prepare dinner. This is a good opportunity to teach life skills that we sometimes do not have the time for, such as washing dishes or stacking the dishwasher, preparing the table for meals, cooking meals and budgeting pocket money.
  • Keep a journal of your thoughts: Start to write down how you are feeling and balance it with a positive that has happened during the day. Doing this will help to normalize your feelings but also shift the focus away from the disruption of self-isolation. This could also be a good exercise to do as a family.
  • Reduce the amount of time you spend watching the news and using social media: The headlines are currently focused on the latest coronavirus information, which can exacerbate stress and anxiety in some people. It is important to keep updated with reliable information, but try to reduce the amount of times you check the news each day. Also try to limit what feeds you follow on social media to relieve feelings of anxiety. Reducing children’s online and social media consumption is helpful too, as it can help you to manage any fears and concerns that they may have regarding the virus.
  • Create a task list: Creating a list of things to do and then completing them provides a sense of accomplishment. It doesn’t have to be a major task but something small like cleaning your closet, organizing the filing system or even doing an online language course for ½ hour a day brings a sense of purpose to your day and completion when the task is scratched off your to-do list.
  • Make time for yourself: Make some time each day to ‘reset’ and ‘reboot’. Whether that is just going for a walk around the block, having a bath, or calling a friend for a catch-up. If you are at home with children all day, this can be mentally and physically exhausting, so try to set aside some ‘me-time’ no matter how limited this may be. 
  • Try to turn your attention towards those most in need: People aged 60 years and above, and those with underlying health conditions are thought to be most at risk. Providing help and support to others, where you can, can help shift focus away your own worries. Even just a phone call to reach out and connect can bring a feeling of community care.

Support available at Priory Wellbeing Centre Dubai

If you feel that you may need professional help for anxiety, receiving the right support from a professional psychologist is an important step to take.

To find out more about mental health support offered at Priory Wellbeing Centre Dubai, call +971 4 245 3800 to speak to one of our administrative team today in confidence, or submit an online enquiry form.

Tanya Dharamshi, Counsellor

This page was clinically reviewed by Tanya Dharamshi (BSW, MSc Psych, Counsellor, DHCC, UAE). Tanya brings 18+ years of counselling experience in trauma, crisis intervention, child abuse, substance addiction, attachment disorder, depression, anxiety, stress, bereavement, couples therapy, mood disorders, chronic illness and adjustment disorder. View Tanya's full profile here.