Our wellbeing - Good advice for anxiety and worry

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It is natural to experience anxiety and worry when events occur that we have little control over. Many people have experienced this in the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, and in addition, many people feel agitated due to the earthquakes felt in Reykjanes, the Reykjavík area and other areas in recent weeks. In times like these, it is very important to take care of your mental health and support those closest to you.

The first thing to keep in mind is that worry and anxiety are natural responses in circumstances like these. Historically, healthy fear and anxiety has taught us to avoid danger and thus saved our lives. So it is perfectly natural to feel these emotions now, but it is also important not to let them take over. We have to process these worries in a constructive manner, listen closely to instructions and focus on the factors we can control, rather than those we cannot. If you feel persistent symptoms, such as lack of focus, numbness, fear, sleep problems, anxiety, physical and/or mental exhaustion and/or fits of crying, it is important to seek help. For many people, talking to loved ones is enough, while others need more support, and then it's good to turn to the healthcare centre. You can book an appointment at your healthcare centre or contact a nurse directly through the online chat on www.heilsuvera.is. You can also contact the Red Cross Helpline 1717 which is open 24/7.

It is important to consider the safety of the home, as advised on the Department of Civil Protection's website, and learn about the correct responses to an earthquake  and a volcanic eruption. Obtaining information is something we can control. However, we can't control whether or when the forces of nature take over, and therefore, fixing your mind on that is not helpful.

However, it is helpful to keep up your daily routine, eat healthy foods, get enough sleep, exercise daily and have nurturing communication with others. Find something fun to do or look forward to every day, whether that's the morning beverage, afternoon walk, quality time with the family, conversations with a good friend, a trip to the swimming pool or a good book to read. Useful tasks, like doing household chores and maintenance, something that has visible results, can also positively affect your mood. These things are important every day but especially in times like these.

Remember that excessive fear and worry do not increase our safety. However, studies have shown that positive emotions can improve mental strength and perseverance, so there is an important reason not to lose your joy in times of uncertainty but to find ways to tend to what gives life meaning.

The website www.heilsuvera.is has plenty of useful information on how to take care of your mental health for example when we experience great stress and on the importance of spending time with children, which is very important in times of uncertainty in order to maintain calmness and routine.

Children often experience things differently than adults. They can become more anxious, insecure and exhibit various behavioural problems in times of stress. It is important for adults to be mindful of how they talk in the presence of children, educate them on what's happening and tell them about the forces of the country that we need to learn to live with. It is important to allow children to ask questions and answer them in a simple, age-appropriate manner. Children are sensitive to adults' moods and reactions, and so it is important to keep as calm as possible, explain the situation, allow them talk about their fears and comfort them. If the child experiences long-term fear and anxiety that strongly affects their quality of life, it is important to seek help. The Reykjanesbær town website has useful information and good advice for parents regarding anxiety and insecurity in children and adolescents: www.reykjanesbaer.is/static/files/Fraedslusvid/ad-takast-a-vid-ovissutima-hagnyt-rad-fyrir-foreldra-barna-og-ungmenna-sem-syna-ooryggi_mars21.pdf.

Fyrst birt 17.03.2021

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