Coronavirus: As anxiety levels soar in the UK, this is how you can look after your mind during the pandemic

Anxiety UK has received a spike in callers due to the coronavirus outbreak (Getty Images)
Anxiety UK has received a spike in callers due to the coronavirus outbreak (Getty Images)

With news of panic buying and then lockdown restrictions, we’re entering an unsettling time as a nation.

Unsurprisingly, charity Anxiety UK have reported a spike in callers getting in touch with them amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A spokesperson said: “We’ve seen a 32% increase in our helpline use, and our website had increased traffic by 220% on our busiest day.”

The organisation have released tips on their website for how to look after your mind during the outbreak.

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Their first piece of advice is to “limit your exposure to news sources” as - while it is important to stay informed - reports also “serves to feed fear” if you are vulnerable.

They likewise recommend having enough “mental ‘downtime’ woven into your daily schedule” - and you can do this using apps like Headspace to practice mindfulness can be very helpful.

If you’re feeling particularly concerned, you can try the ‘APPLE’ technique, which involves five steps...

Acknowledge – Notice and acknowledge the uncertainty as it comes to mind.

Read more: How coronavirus measures may be affecting children's mental health – and how parents can help

Pause – Don’t react as you normally do. Don’t react at all. Just pause and breath.

Pull back – Tell yourself this is just the worry talking, and this apparent need for certainty is not helpful and not necessary. It is only a thought or feeling. Don’t believe everything you think. Thoughts are not statements or facts.

Let go – Let go of the thought or feeling. It will pass. You don’t have to respond to them. You might imagine them floating away in a bubble or cloud.

Explore – Explore the present moment, because right now, in this moment, all is well. Notice your breathing and the sensations of your breathing. Notice the ground beneath you. Look around and notice what you see, what you hear, what you can touch, what you can smell. Right now. Then shift your focus of attention to something else – on what you need to do, on what you were doing before you noticed the worry, or do something else – mindfully with your full attention.

Read more: 'It's very hard to stay positive' - how over-70s are reacting to the prospect of coronavirus self-isolation

The charity have also shared on their site a list of activities, devised by their team, to do at home to help ease worries.

  • Download some podcasts you’ve been meaning to listen to

  • Watch that boxset on Netflix if you have time on your hands

  • Having boxes of things prepared that can be done alone, things like arts and crafts, knitting, video games

  • Try some meditation, especially for those who’ve never tried it

  • Baking

  • Learning a new hobby, something like origami or other simple craft tasks

  • Education (via online links)

  • Skyping friends and FaceTime calls

  • Cooking

  • Mindfulness

  • Exercise bike

  • Writing

  • Reading

  • Knitting and other crafts

  • DIY

  • Gardening

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Many people on social media are turning to meditation and yoga to help them keep their mental health in check during this period.

Yesterday, Kylie Kloss encouraged her Instagram followers to join her with a virtual meditation session from home.

Yoga and Pilates studio, FLY LDN is running free Instagram Live classes on a daily basis, at 8am, 12.30pm and 6pm, while another studio, Triyoga, is streaming sessions for £9 (or £7 each if you buy a pack).