Healthy habits to help you cope with health anxiety


(Aarón Blanco Tejedor, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Ruth Yan, a graduate-entry medical student at University College Cork (Ireland). She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

Since the news of the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in early January, newly arisen stressors have created a spike in fear and health related anxiety among the population. In light of the current situation, small-scale anxiety is actually instinctive as this is how our body tries to keep us safe from danger, however if you find yourself dealing with…

  1. changes in sleep or eating patterns
  2. difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  3. changes in behaviour
  4. excessive measures to stay clean and healthy
  5. increase intake of alcohol, tobacco or food

…due to fears of getting infected or uncertainties of the future, then you might slowly be developing a problem. Just like exercising, eating healthy and getting a balanced amount of sleep are routines that keep us physically fit, it is important to introduce healthy habits to keep our mental health intact in demanding times like these as stress causes our immune system to be more vulnerable. After strenuous research, here are a few recurring tips from different psychologists, as well as therapists that could help anyone going through a difficult time right now.

  1. Have an intentional morning routine

Try setting up a sleeping routine and adding meditation exercises into your mornings like noticing 3 things you hear, see or feel this can help keep your feelings in check & connect with the environment.

  1. Journaling

Keeping a diary helps you understand your feelings more and provides you with a space to let your thoughts and worries flow out naturally.

  1. Avoid information overload

Getting constant notifications throughout the day can leave you feeling stressed. Restrict yourself to checking your newsfeed once a day and stick to reliable sources such as WHO or CDC as the media tends to make click-bait titles or entirely false news to get you to visit their sites, however all this does is induce panic.

  1. Breathing Exercises

If you ever find yourself feeling overwhelmed take a moment to do a simple breathing exercise like for example, “box breathing”, this leaves you feeling more calm and collected after you are done.

  1. Stay connected

Humans are social beings, we thrive on interactions with other people, therefore using social media to your advantage is key at times like these. Call up your friends,  bond with loved ones or even talk to a coworker, it will help release those feel good hormones.

  1. Establish your control

Instead of focusing on things you can’t control, shift your vision to things you can do as an individual and are in your control.

  1. Exercise

Studies show regular exercise can have a significant effect on depression, anxiety, ADHD. It also relieves tension and stress, boosts physical and mental energy and enhances well-being through endorphins.

  1. Embrace your worries

Lastly, don’t try to bottle up your worries, push it down or act like it doesn’t exist. It’s normal to be tense in the current situation. Embrace your feelings and talking it out would hopefully help you get through this soon.

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