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Managing the emotional impact of coronavirus

Last reviewed on 02 July 2020

As time passes by you may be feeling more anxious or stressed than usual. Almost everyone’s emotions are heightened and these changes are completely normal.

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. You may get muscle tension or pain, stomach problems, your chest may be tight, your heart beat may feel quicker. You may have noticed a change in your behaviour – you may be feeling more irritated or emotional, you could be avoiding certain situations, or you may not even feel like talking at all.

Here are some other common signs of stress to look out for:

  • Disrupted sleep – you may be finding it hard to dose off or stay asleep
  • A change in eating patterns – no appetite or be making unusual food choices
  • Drinking alcohol and/or smoking more than usual
  • Struggling to concentrate
  • Your existing health problems may be getting worse

Prolonged stress and anxiety can affect your health which can impact your immune system and may eventually cause depression. So it’s really important to recognise if you are feeling this way, and ask for help if you need it.

What can I do to cope with stress?

Take a break from the news and social media

Hearing about coronavirus repeatedly can be upsetting. Try having a few days break from it all when things become overwhelming and stick to trustworthy sources such as the .gov or who.int sites when you do want more information.

Do some exercise

It can be difficult to prioritise but exercise really does help, so make sure you exercise daily – you could go for a walk or do some yoga at home or use this time to take up a new exercise.

Try and get into a sleep routine

If you’re finding it difficult to drop off to sleep, think about your routine before you go to bed. Turn off your smartphone and tablet an hour before bedtime to help your brain relax. We all need 7-8 hours sleep a night, so make sure you’re not consistently staying up late. Check out the NHS for more info.

Try and eat healthy food

Eating healthily makes you feel better and improves your immune system. So dust off the recipe books and get cooking, there’s a great selection of delicious, healthy recipes for all the family here.

Make time to unwind

If you’re feeling stressed, make sure you take some time out to do something you enjoy – a puzzle, taking a walk, baking a cake, playing a game – do whatever makes you feel happy.

How do I help my colleagues?

Managing the emotional impacts of coronavirus

Just letting your colleagues know you’re there for them to talk, if they want to, is really important. Having emotional connections to people is really beneficial to your health and wellbeing and can really help you to be that bit more resilient to your emotions, and also recover when things get tough.

What to look out for

The knowledge you have about your colleagues is your greatest help in this situation as you’ll be able to spot when they aren’t feeling or behaving normally. Once you’ve spotted this, your main job is to be there for that colleague and offer them emotional and practical support.

You’re not expected to know all the answers straightaway, sometimes just being there makes the greatest impact and you can find out the answers later.

What you can do to help

Just being there for them is the greatest help. Some colleagues may want to talk, others won’t, and you’re not expected to force any conversations it’s clear people don’t want to have. If you’ve noticed a particular change in their behaviour you can use this to encourage a conversation that is focused on their wellbeing s the main priority.

If a colleague does want to talk, it’s really important to listen. Your support and compassion will really help them in the situation they are facing.