Keeping calm during uncertain times

Keeping calm during uncertain times

Right now, there’s a great deal of uncertainty in relation to COVID-19 and its broader effects on global health and the economy, and while there’s a lot we can’t control, there are some things we can influence like our mindset.

A variety of life experiences can bring about feelings of anxiety, like giving a speech at your best friend’s wedding or finding a spider in the kitchen. These are generally brief moments that do not have a lasting or ongoing impact.

Sometimes anxious feelings can have more long-term effects and impact your ability to perform certain aspects of your work role or life. This is because the anticipation, or the way you visualise a future event becomes overwhelming to the point where is it disruptive to work and life patterns.  If this continues, it can become an unhelpful cycle.

Here are some tips to help manage prolonged feelings of anxiety from Converge International, a global provider of workplace assistance, health and wellbeing programs.

Challenge your negative thoughts

One of the most common features associated with prolonged periods of anxiety or worry is catastrophic thinking. When this occurs, negative thoughts and feelings become exaggerated and our perspective is overtaken by a negative outlook. There is also a tendency to combine the present (or the past) with the future where it is assumed that because things are a certain way now, they will always be that way.

Be aware and reflect on how you are feeling. Look to identify what are the things that are making you feel this way. At the same time, remind yourself of what parts of your life also make you feel safe, make you laugh and bring you joy. It is important to acknowledge and recognise that there are both positive and negative elements and to make an active effort to not only focus on the negative aspects exclusively.

Make sure you rest and get enough sleep

Good quality sleep is important for both our physical and mental health. Poor sleep impacts not only on our irritability the next day, but it also significantly affects our mood. This leads us to feel more anxious and worry about things that we would not normally worry about. There is evidence that sleep deprivation makes us more hypersensitive to threat and leads us to more negative interpretations of things. If we are sleep-deprived our brains can overcompensate and go on high alert.   Making sure you get enough sleep is a critical and simple way you can help improve mental health and wellbeing.

Get active and involved in a variety of activities

Get some fresh air. Get some exercise. Do some gardening. Take the dog for a walk. Go for a run or walk outside. Go to the Gym. Bake up a storm. Involve yourself in hobbies. These positive physical activities have all been shown to help people reduce distress. This is because they help us interact in the here and now and not dwell on the past or the future. When we enjoy ourselves in these physical actions, we feel more satisfied and calmer, and the more present and in the moment we can be, the more we will benefit.


If you find your anxiety or worry is building to the point that it is intruding on your thoughts or preventing you from getting on with your daily life, seek assistance from your leader, local HR contact, local Employee Assistance Program provider, General Practitioner or mental health professional.

Avoiding herd mentality

Herd mentality is also known as mob mentality and pack mentality. It refers to the way in which people are influenced by the crowd to adopt certain behaviours on an emotional rather than rational basis. The outbreak of coronavirus has seen an extreme eruption of herd mentality as people panic-buy, and hoard quantities of groceries that may not be rational or ultimately needed.

Here’s how to manage it:

  • Too much media can heighten anxiety and worry. Get information from informed sources such as the WHO and Government websites. Manage how much information you access. Schedule news free periods and have regular breaks from accessing media and information.
  • Continue to practice good hygiene by washing your hands frequently and thoroughly, especially before meals, after contact with other people and items handled or touched by others.
  • Avoid travel to restricted areas.
  • Self-isolate if you feel ill. Call your GP before you go in, so they can take precautions.
  • It is important you seek support if you feel anxious or have concerns. Speak to your leader, local HR contact, local Employee Assistance Program provider, General Practitioner or mental health professional.
  • Stay in touch with your family, friends and social networks.

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