Our world is changing rapidly at the moment. It's normal to feel more anxious at this time, worrying about the safety of yourself and those your love. In order to reduce and manage our anxiety, we need to understand it.

Watch this video that gives practical steps to help deal with the normal fear and anxieties these situations can make us feel:

Whatever steps we can take to ensure our worry and anxiety don’t overwhelm us is important for our wellbeing. We will do all we can to support others, but how often do we forget about ourselves? Let’s remember to give ourselves some compassion too, it’s hard for everyone.

Understanding worry

As human beings we have the amazing ability to think ahead, anticipate obstacles or problems and think of solutions. To have a goal and achieve it, thinking ahead helps massively.

We can think ahead to doing our shopping. Think of a quieter time to go to socially distance yourself, take sanitiser and wash your hands before and after going. Fantastic! But what about when we think ahead and instead of feeling in control, we feel anxious or apprehensive. Excessive worry often makes us think about the worst-case scenarios.

Worrying can feel like a chain of thoughts and images, which can escalate to become uncontrollable. In times like these, it's natural to notice us jumping to worst-case scenarios, reach conclusions about what may or may not happen, listening to sensationalist stories or being overwhelmed by the media. Don’t forget the importance of disconnecting.

We sometimes worry about practical problems we can solve; take the action and sort it! When things worry us that are in the future, hard to predict or we don’t know how things will pan out, it can lead to a cycle of stress, worry and tension.

We can try and manage these too much, so that it backfires; watch the news more to understand what’s happening, but find you are becoming more and more anxious. Working differently we could lose routines impacting our sleeping, eating and drinking routines and habits too. We may act out of character, panic buying and causing stress for others.

Worry isn’t something that happens in our minds either. When worry becomes excessive, we feel anxiety in our bodies too. Physical symptoms could be:

  • muscle tension
  • aches
  • difficulty sleeping
  • fatigue

If you're experiencing these, just remember it's normal to be anxious at the moment, whether you're worrying about real problems that need solutions or hypothetical worries about what might come.

How to manage your worry

There are steps we can all take to manage our worry:

  • maintain a balance: read our 5 ways to wellbeing and think which of these might help you reduce your worry levels
  • identify your worry: Is your worry a ‘real problem’ worry? Can you solve it? Or is it a hypothetical worry? If hypothetical, what steps can you take to focus on things we can control?
  • postpone the worry: use apps like the NHS stress and anxiety companion to help you calm your mind
  • practice mindfulness: Steps2Wellbeing have information about mindfulness based cognitive therapy, Dorset Mindfulness have some free resources, or check out YouTube
  • progressive muscle relaxation: this can support if you are noticing stress physically in your body. Again (we love a YouTube video!), guided videos like this can help you do this at home
  • APPLE! An apple a day keeps the doctor away! This is a different kind of apple (but more on healthy eating later in the coronavirus coping kit!). The acronym APPLE can help manage stress and uncertainty:
    • A for acknowledge what is in your mind
    • P for pause for a second, don’t react to the thought or feeling, just let it be
    • P for pull back from the thought or feeling you're having. Remind yourself it’s just the uncertainty of the situation and trying to find the solution to what you can’t control (and that's ok!).
    • L for let it go (did you sing it?)…the thought or feeling is unpleasant but not harmful. Choose to refocus your attention on the present
    • E for explore what's going on around you right now. Refocus your attention on what is around you, not what you're thinking inside you

Internal support

Don’t forget to seek help where you need it. You can access talking therapy services through our Employee Wellbeing Team. Just contact: employeewellbeing@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk Tel: 01305 225715 / 01305 225701

Maintaining good health day to day is the best way to manage your wellbeing. You’ll find lots of tips and advice about this on these pages. If you’re finding life difficult because of how you feel, or have an issue with your physical health, seeking help early is often the key to getting back on track.

Need to talk?

A talking therapies package, including cognitive behaviour therapy, mindfulness and counselling is available to employees of Dorset Council. This can help individuals gain a better understanding of their difficulties, develop skills to overcome them or help emotionally adjust to life events. The service, provided by Steps 2 Wellbeing in partnership with Dorset Council, can help you manage a range of home or work-related problems like:

  • stress
  • anxiety
  • low mood or depression
  • bereavement or loss
  • relationship or family problems

You don’t need to wait until a crisis point to access the service, it’s designed to help at the earliest stages of stress, anxiety or low mood. Specific therapists are allocated to work with Dorset Councils employees, meaning you’ll be able to access a service far more quickly than usual.

If you think you may benefit from accessing the service, you can self-refer by completing the online referral form . If you work with Steps 2 Wellbeing in a professional capacity and have any concerns about accessing the service, please contact Employee Wellbeing.

If you have already been referred to Steps 2 Wellbeing or are on their waiting list, please email them to let them know you are a Dorset Council employee.

For wellbeing advice and guidance, whether as an individual, manager or colleague, contact: employeewellbeing@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk Tel: 01305 225715 / 01305 225701

For Occupational Health advice regarding fitness for work; sickness absence; workplace adaptations; return to work planning; ill health retirement and health promotion, contact: occupationalhealth@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk Tel: 01305 224094.

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