Coronavirus: How can I overcome my anxiety?

Dramatic changes in all our lives during the past six months have increased anxiety levels, and a new study suggests parents are particularly worried about the wellbeing of their children.Dramatic changes in all our lives during the past six months have increased anxiety levels, and a new study suggests parents are particularly worried about the wellbeing of their children.

So what does anxiety feel like and how do you overcome it?

It's more than just feeling stressed or worried. These are natural reactions we all feel at some stage, and they can be a good thing.

But constant anxiety feels like fear which doesn't go away, and if it becomes too intense it can take over your life and stop you doing normal everyday things.

Anxiety makes you feel worried all the time, tired and unable to concentrate. This can cause sleeping problems and leave you feeling depressed.

There are often symptoms which affect the body too, such as a fast heartbeat or breathing, trembling, sweating, dizziness, diarrhoea and feeling sick.

and range from being mild to severe.

Up to one in 10 people will have a problem with anxiety or phobias at some point in their lives - but many don't ask for treatment.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists suggests trying self-help techniques first, like:

Activities such as yoga, exercise, reading and listening to music can also help.

Experts say it's a good idea to cut down on alcohol and stop smoking to reduce anxiety.

If your anxiety persists, there are lots of self-help books on the best therapies, such as

which is also provided on the NHS.

CBT is a talking therapy which helps people deal with overwhelming problems by breaking them down into smaller chunks.

It is suitable for children with severe anxiety too, and parents can be taught how to do it.

"It's important not to suffer in silence," says Nicky Lidbetter, from Anxiety UK.

She recommends booking an appointment with a GP and explaining your symptoms, but she says "one path doesn't suit everybody".

"Some are struggling, some are thriving because of a lack of pressure from school," says Prof Cathy Creswell, professor of developmental clinical psychology at University of Oxford.

during the first month of lockdown found an increase in feelings of unhappiness, anxiety and low mood among primary school children taking part.

But parents of secondary age children reported fewer emotional problems, and teenagers themselves said their mood and behaviour hadn't changed.

This is reflected in

which found they were less anxious during lockdown than they had been last October, suggesting there is huge variation among children of different ages.


Anything from worries about health and money to changes at work, school or relationships can cause deep-seated anxiety.

During the pandemic, there have been many potential anxiety triggers such as fears over the virus, going outdoors, infecting other people, wearing masks and returning to normal life, as well as what the future holds.

These have been termed

which has received a huge rise in calls to its helpline since lockdown rules were relaxed.

Callers tend to have more complex problems than normal and calls are lasting longer, the charity says.

Psychiatrists are warning that lockdown and social distancing is affecting people's routines and stopping them seeing friends and family. This can make any anxiety they are feeling even worse.

There are also concerns that people aren't seeking help for their mental health because of fears over the virus, and this is leading to an rise in emergency cases.

"If you feel unwell you can still get treatment during the pandemic," says Dr Billy Boland, from the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

"If you are facing mental health issues contact your GP or key worker, if you have one, and continue to use your mental health services as usual. If you are in a mental health crisis contact the NHS 111 online or telephone service."

Anxiety is a common condition and, at the moment, many people are feeling anxious about life.

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