Health Anxiety: How are you being affected by COVID-19?

With continuous media coverage, unverified stories on social media and uncertain outcomes, it’s common to feel overwhelmed and worried about your’s, or your family’s health and wellbeing. While these feelings are understandable, if they start to interfere with your everyday life, you may be experiencing health anxiety.

What is health anxiety?

Health anxiety is a mental health issue characterised by feelings of worry, anxiety or fear about your health and wellbeing. Some of the symptoms include stress that’s out of proportion to the impact of the event, an inability to set aside a worry, and feeling restless.

What are the signs and symptoms of health anxiety?

In response to the coronavirus, you may experience, some worry and anxiety, feelings of helplessness, becoming withdrawn or avoiding public places, hypervigilence about health and hygiene, and even confusion, especially when we’re getting information from so many different sources.

People with elevated health anxiety might experience severe anxious thoughts that interrupt their daily life.

Common symptoms of anxiety include:

  • difficulty concentrating
  • restlessness
  • rapid heartbeat
  • trembling or shaking
  • feeling light-headed or faint
  • numbness or nausea
  • sweating
  • avoidance

It is when you become so consumed by worry that it affects your ability to work, socialise or complete everyday tasks, that you need to stop and listen.

How you can help yourself

While it’s reasonable to be concerned about the coronavirus, there are simple and effective steps you can take to help take care of yourself, and the people around you.

Know the facts

Get information or updates from reputable sources. Avoid getting information from social media or second-hand information from people who aren’t experts in the field. Instead, look at official government websites like;

  • www.health.govt.nz
  • www.who.int

Know when to switch off

Every day we’re exposed to new information or updates about the coronavirus. We see and hear it on the morning news, radio, social media or conversations with friends, family or colleagues. While it’s important to be informed and kept up to date, over-exposure to this type of content can lead to increased feelings of anxiety or worry. If you notice yourself becoming more anxious, switch off and take a break from the news to focus on the things in your life you have more control of, like your self-care.

Keep things in perspective

People who take care of their health and practise good self-care are more resistant to the virus. And, while it’s understandable to be concerned about the number of those affected worldwide, it’s important to remember that most people who contract the virus, make a full recovery. Keeping things in perspective will help you stay calm.

Avoid making assumptions

Remember, anyone can be affected by coronavirus, regardless of their ethnicity, age or gender. Avoid making assumptions against certain communities such as those who originate from countries heavily impacted by the virus. We need to get through this together, by being our best selves and coming together during these challenging times.

Practice good hygiene

Follow official advice and practice good hygiene. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20-seconds, use alcohol-based hand sanitisers and cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. If you develop flu-like symptoms see your doctor and avoid work or public spaces. It’s also important to alert the hospital or clinic in advance that you are coming in.

Stay calm and stay healthy

Some anniversary reactions include wanting to pull away and avoid talking about the event or the impact it has had on you. Despite this understandable reaction, it can be helpful to connect with others who can support you and talk through your thoughts and feelings. Or simply be there to spend time with you. Don’t isolate yourself.

Stay connected

Connecting with the people around us improves our level of resilience. Although it’s not recommended to be in contact with people when you’re feeling ill, you can still stay connected by phone, video-call, or text message. If you’ve noticed that you’re feeling worried or anxious, reach out to your friends and family and let them know how you’re feeling.

IF YOU NEED SUPPORT

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by anxiety or concern, Xero offers support through the Xero Assistance Programme (XAP) which is available to all Starter, Standard and Premium subscribers.

XAP gives you access to face-to-face, telephone, live chat and online counselling, as well as key resources, all paid for by Xero.

More details can be found on Xero’s website: https://www.xero.com/nz/xap/

Alternatively you can contact Benestar directly for free, confidential support by calling 0800 360 364 (or +61 2 8295 2292).

This blog is reproduced from Benestar’s Health Anxiety factsheet. For a copy of the factsheet, please contact Ontrack Bookkeeping Ltd.

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