The spread of COVID-19 means we’re all going through an unprecedented and worrying time. Everyday you're likely to go through a range of emotions. Here are seven ways to reduce anxiety, improve our mental health and think more positively.
1. Avoid news overload
It’s hard to get away from coronavirus. It’s all over the news, and mostly what our friends and family are talking about. (Do these conversations sound familiar?)
For many of us, a good starting point to reduce stress is by not obsessively reading news stories about COVID-19. Yes, it all seems unreal and is a very fast moving situation. But poring over articles about those badly affected and figures going up will just make you feel more anxious.
Keep abreast of developments, particularly ones that concern your family. But then put down your phone, or switch off the news.
Listening to music stations on the radio can help feel you less isolated and keep you positive, while still informing you about key developments. Switching off completely from thinking about COVID-19 by watching your favourite TV show, reading a book or phoning a friend can also help.
2. Get some fresh air
If you have to self-isolate at home, it can be tough at times. Not having a change of scene or being able to see other people can make us all feel down. If things feel like they’re getting on top of you, you could get outside to exercise in your garden if you have one.
If you're not self-isolating, then walking the dog or going for a walk or run are great stress-relievers.
You'll need to stick to social distancing measures when exercising though. Here are some more tips on coping with self-isolation while pregnant and with a baby, and for staying fit and healthy while pregnant or with a baby.
3. Seek out reliable information
For pregnant women, there'll be specific concerns and questions about COVID-19. It's so important to have reliable sources of information right now. We've put together some useful FAQs for you about coronavirus and pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and using formula.
Kat, mum to Sophie, 6, and Eva, 4, is due to give birth in the summer. She says:
“I think anxiety among pregnant women has upped with the government advice about us. Even though I know it’s still not likely to be too bad if I catch it, there still is a worry that they don’t actually know whether it can affect the baby.”
These concerns are completely understandable. Following guidance about social distancing, using reliable sources if you need to check anything (see sources below) and attending your antenatal appointments will give you reassurance that you’re doing all you can to protect yourself and your baby.
4. Follow recommended health guidance
You’re probably also worried about the health of your family. Katie, mum to Dylan and Rosie, says:
“My daughter has a mild temperature so we’re self-isolating. Although I know she’s likely to be fine, if she has been infected with COVID-19 then we’ll all probably get it within the next couple of weeks. I’m worried about how it’ll affect us all. Is it too much to hope that we’ll all have mild to moderate symptoms?”
Again, following the government guidelines as much as possible will hopefully give you some sense of control. Even if one member of the household is infected with COVID-19, it doesn’t necessarily mean everyone will get it, especially if you take care to wash your hands and keep as much distance from each other as possible. (We know this is easier said than done with a family!)
Our concerns are often for our children above ourselves, so it is some reassurance to know that children are more likely to develop mild to moderate symptoms than adults.
5. Use new ways to stay in touch
We're lucky to be living at a time with so much technology available to help us stay connected. It's not the same as a hug or cafe meet up but there are ways to 'see' loved ones and keep in touch.
It can feel particularly hard to be separated from parents and grandparents right now. Anxiety about their well-being can affect your own. Read our suggestions and tips for staying in touch with grandparents here.
6. Understand your rights and benefits
Aside from obvious concerns about the health of ourselves and our loved ones, some of us might be very worried about money. This is especially if self-isolation or illness means that you or your partner can’t work.
The government has announced some measures to help, including support for businesses such as the furlough scheme and those struggling to pay their mortgage. If money issues are affecting you, contact your bank and see what help might be available.
We've put together this FAQ on your employment rights to help with any questions about how coronavirus might affect your maternity pay or leave.
7. Spread some kindness
Supporting each other and spreading positive messages isn’t just a nice thing to do, it can make us feel better and make a difference to others too. We've put together a list of 10 positive things you can do during the pandemic. Have a look and see what you could do to spread some kindness.
And above all, be kind to yourself!
Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.
Interactive, engaging and social, our live online antenatal course is a great way for you to meet other local parents, and get essential unbiased information and knowledge about pregnancy, birth and early days with your baby.
The NHS has a campaign to remind pregnant women that the NHS is still here for you. It is important that you still attend your antenatal appointments and don’t forget to contact your midwife or maternity team if you’re worried about your health, or that of your baby. Read about coronavirus, pregnancy and birth advice here where you’ll find all the latest information and links to helpful resources.
The Mental Health Foundation has useful tips for looking after your mental health during the coronavirus pandemicc.