Coronaphobia is very real for some people

We live in an information age at the best of times but during the pandemic, the amount of information and coverage of the issue combined with an increased amount of time to consume it has become a problem for some people.

For months we have been hit repeatedly with daily briefings, breaking news, a complete shift in the way of life for many. Is it any surprised that some people have experienced negative mental and physical health issues as a result?

As lockdown rules continue to be eased many people are finding that returning to something that more resembles their pre-Covid-19 life is filling them with a fear and anxiety which is a lot like a phobia.

Are you afraid of returning to work?

A term that has evolved to describe this fear of returning to work. ‘Coronaphobia’ is a term that could be used to describe your fear at lockdown being lifted. It could also be a phobia. It depends on how severe your reaction is to the change in the rules of lockdown.

It is clear from how people are talking on social media especially that there are many people for whom the idea of going back to life as normal is a very daunting prospect. Below are just two of the many posts on Twitter about how Coronaphobia is affecting people

Dr. Armin Tehrany says ask for help if you need it

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A large percentage of the UK is anxious about post-lockdown life

A recent YouGov survey found that nearly half the people surveyed were anxious or worried about going shopping after lockdown ends. 60% of people said that they were uncomfortable at the thought of doing things they used to do like going for a coffee or a drink in a pub. 

There have been countless support groups emerge during the pandemic to try and help and those who are struggling to cope. One particularly good source of Covid-19 support can be found on Reddit. This forum shows just how widespread the anxiety and fear around returning to work is for many people. 

“I don't know if I'm being irrationally scared or what. But it's consuming my life. I have a work meeting on Wednesday and I also have a doctors appointment the following day to talk about anxiety and work. I hope that by then I can have some more clarity on the situation. Assess the risks at work, ask the doctor if it's too much of a risk?? Am I just being paranoid????” u/kbrimmer

 The experience of "Kbrimmer" is far from unique.


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Is Coronaphobia an irrational fear?

Part of the definition of a phobia is that it is an irrational fear. Having a fear of contracting a virus which has killed thousands of people and has completely upturned our entire way of life doesn’t seem to be that irrational though. It seems like a very understandable response to a very difficult situation. 

Counselling psychologist Dr Rachel Allan says

“I think it's really important to emphasise that any anxiety or distress or despair that people are struggling with at the moment in relation to what's going on is an entirely natural and normal response,” 

For many people this anxiety will ease as we acclimate to being out in the world, going about our day. For some though there will be a significant effect that doesn’t ease as quickly or as easily as it might for others. If your response gets to be unhelpful then that would be a good time to look at getting some help and support.

Has your response to the situation got out of hand?

To help you figure out if your response has got a little out of control and unhelpful there are some warning signs to look out for...

  • Is your anxiousness or fearfulness lasting days and days (or even weeks and weeks) and is it powerful and intense?
  • Do you avoid people and places even when they are relatively safe/low risk?
  • Do you spend large chunks of your day thinking about Coronavirus and find it difficult to not think about it?
  • Do you do regular and thorough checks of yourself? Do you examine every cough, palpitations or shift in your temperature and wonder if you can caught the virus?
  • Have you cleaned and sanitised your home to an obsessive degree?

    What you can to ease your symptoms

    It is worth bringing in a good dose of common sense during these trying times. The reality is that the global survival rate is 99.something%. The chances of you getting the virus are small. The chances of it killing you are tiny. 

    With that in mind, here are some helpful tips that could help you regain some sense of control of the situation.

    • Be aware of the media you consume - Being engrossed in news reports on TV and online will only fuel your fear and anxiety. Perhaps ask a friend or family member who seems to be coping better if they would mind sending you any serious or significant information updates. That way you will know the important details without getting bogged down in all the little news updates.
    • Things will improve - as time passes and our knowledge of the virus develops then chances are we will improve the situation. Even if coronavirus is never eliminated it is possible that your levels of anxiety can be managed more effectively so your thoughts aren’t making a difficult situation much worse.
    • Stop focusing on your physical ‘symptoms’ - We have an ability to find what we go looking for. If you start the process by asking yourself “Have I got a temperature?” then if you study yourself for long enough there is a chance that you will be able to increase your temperature and create a self fulfilling prophesy which could fuel anxiety. Instead, focus on something outside of your body. It may be a film, reading a book or writing a blog post. 
    • Take proactive action - Put time and energy into looking at what you can do to look after yourself. Prioritise meaningful connections with other people. Focus on how you can sleep and eat well. Be active. It may mean going up and downstairs at home 10 times a day or walking around your local park but take some exercise daily if you can.
    • You don’t HAVE to achieve lots during lockdown. Just surviving should be the goal rather than writing a novel! Take each day as it comes. Try and do something that helps you but if you need to rest after a relatively small amount of activity then do that. These are different times so there are different rules.
    • Get professional help if you need it - If your anxiety has spiralled out of control and you have tried the things on this list but still are having difficulties then we can help. Counselling, hypnotherapy or CBT could be worth considering as a part of taking control of your thoughts and feelings.  

    Hypnotherapy could help you tackle Coronaphobia

    Hypnotherapy can be a great tool when it comes to addressing fears and phobias. As Coronaphobia is based on uncontrolled thoughts and because hypnotherapy is focused on taking control of those thoughts it could help you make the changes you desire.

    A hypnotic trance is is a completely natural state of mind, similar to daydreaming. Harness the power of your imagination to focus on the solution rather than the problem.

    Counselling could ease your fears

    Talking can help. Identifying the triggers that have contributed to your Coronaphobia and then talking through the alternatives could hgelp you change your perspective on the problem.

    It is possible that an experience in your past is significantly contributing to your fear in the present. Talking through this past experience and changing your feelings about it could ease your difficulties in the present.

    Yoga & mindfulness could help you relax

    Taking control of your thoughts and feelings can be helped through taking control of your body and your breathing. All the different aspects of who we are are interconnected after all. Two particularly effective ways of taking control of your body and your breathing is through yoga and mindfulness.

    These seperate and distinct, but related, practises have helped lots of people to change aspects of their life. Find out how they could help you by contacting our yoga nd mindfulness practitioners.

    CBT could reduce your anxiety

    Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has been established over the last 20 or more years as being particularly effective when it comes to tackling many different problems.

    CBT is perhaps most associated with helping people to tackle depression but it could also be used to help decrease your anxiety regarding Coronavirus/Covid-19.

    Click below for details about the Cognitive Behavioural Therapists available at the Sheffield Wellness Centre.

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