COVID-19: Common worries

29 March 2020

A lot of the anxiety around COVID-19 comes from predictable worries. Will I get ill? How will I cope if my family gets sick? What is happening about my job? Will the healthcare system be able to cope?

In this episode, I will discuss some of the common worries and remind everyone that anxiety is a bias towards seeing the negative.

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Speaker 1 (00:00):

Hey, it's Chris. I couldn't have a video looking at all the anxiety and stress around the COVID-19 pandemic and today I want to look at how some common worries because there's a lot of common things like that that you might think you might sit there and not realising that actually everyone else is worrying about it and it's just really common. It's not because you're especially broken or especially in danger, it's just because these things are pretty common. I've just made a list and been talking to a lot of people, but this obviously especially at the clinic and online and loads of places and you just hear the same worries coming up time and time again, lot of very individual worries as well. Anxiety can be very creative, but a lot of them are really just repeated. Everyone's having them. So things like a, I'm going to get ill obviously and I'm going to die.

Speaker 1 (01:00):

Who's a pretty normal to be afraid of dying? Uh, my family will get sick. Huge. One. Loads of people are afraid that their family will get sick and then they'll in fact them they are. It'd be really hard that family might die. That would be really emotionally traumatising. A lot of concern about employment out there. I will lose my job. I won't be able to pay my bills or companies going bust companies. Furloughing people not paying them. Uh, shops will run out of supplies. That's, that's kind of happening, but in, in not as bad as way as you probably think. Like it's really hard to get handwash and bread and toilet roll from some shops, but actually, yeah, yeah. Everyone's got ice cream and you can survive an ice cream. It's fine. In fact, it's a great way to live in the short term. Um, maybe I won't be able to cope with a lockdown.

Speaker 1 (01:53):

I don't know what to do. I'll go crazy if I'm stuck inside for a long period of time. And also I don't how to self isolate for two weeks. Maybe you're worried about chips, you know, do I have enough provisions in, um, a lot of us are used to going to the shops every day, getting food every day and actually how would we cope for two weeks? Now if you live in Norway where you occasionally you get snowed in for two weeks, you probably sat there laughing and us thinking that's ridiculous. How can you not have that? But if you live in a big metropolitan city where the shops are open 24 hours a day, it's pretty normal not to plan more than a couple of hours in advance. Maybe you buy your, your tea or evening meal on the way home from work everyday and suddenly you're like need to prepare two weeks in advance.

Speaker 1 (02:43):

It's scary. Um, and then down to less life threatening things, but things really important like travel plans. Maybe you've got, you know, one holiday a year that you really look forward to or you go see family and suddenly that's disrupted or cancels and you're worried that you're not going to be able to get your money back and you're going to miss your one holiday. And that's, that's a genuine real concern. So for that alerted worries out. Obviously there's plenty more, plenty of individual worries, but those are really common themes and I don't really want to go through and like break each one down and say, okay, we are, we could challenge this. Feel free to do that. If you think that would be useful, leave a comment, let me know that you want me to go. Challenges, worries. But in general, I don't really want to engage in each one and say, okay, this is wrong, this is wrong, this is wrong.

Speaker 1 (03:36):

Because a lot of the time that that can be helpful in diffusing worry, but a lot of time we don't want to get into that kind of debate with our anxiety. We just don't want to give, it's kind of like throwing fuel on the fire, right? Because you give it that CPU time, that brain time and the anxiety can grow and grow and actually we don't want to give it any brain time. We just want to move on. We don't want to spend time thinking, chances are that we're all going to be fine. The the your chance of dying depends on whether you have underlying health conditions and your age group. But the good news is that even if you are over 80 then you've still got like a 10 in 11 chance of being fine of recovering. So, and that's the highest risk age group.

Speaker 1 (04:23):

If you're eight years old, then you're almost certainly going to be fine. Like those, you've got the same chance of winning the lottery as dying. Now, if you're sitting there and you're a lottery winner at eight years old than how you would do that because you're not old enough to gamble, then that may be worried because you do defy the odds. But for the rest of us, not lottery winners not going to die if we're eight. What I do think it will be useful to do is pick up some common themes there. And the two really common themes is, one, the world is dangerous. We're scared because bad things are gonna happen. And it's true that through our lives, some bad things are gonna happen. But if you, if you go down the list, that's consistently what we're scared of, that the world is dangerous and is threatening us and the other half of that is that we're not good enough, we are weak, we will not be able to cope when things get tough there.

Speaker 1 (05:26):

The idea that our family will get ill and we will be a weak person who can't take care of them or maybe they are an elderly relative or underlying health conditions and they are unfortunately one of the people that doesn't make it and we were just going to be a mess. We're not going to be able to cope. Now again, chances are that's not true because the most anxiety suffers. We've most anxious before something happens and actually when it happens we just get on with it and we're a lot stronger than we think. Didn't necessarily make us feel better beforehand even though we know we always feel crap beforehand. And then if you think of maybe to pick a more benign example or social event that you're really scared of, actually most of the anxieties before, then you go, when you do, it's fine. But then the wooden rolls around next month and the week before your anxiety starts building up.

Speaker 1 (06:18):

Even though we know we're fine in, in the actual event. In this case, it's the same. A lot of us know that actually when the shit hits the fan, we will actually cope. But we spend a lot of time worrying that we're weak and that we won't cope. And you can take your list of words really useful to write out all of your specific worries for this chips. So you have that information, you can do some meditating on just getting them out there helped, helping you verbalize them can be really useful in making them think about are they true or not? Are they genuine or not? Um, but if you do that, you can also take these common themes of there is some kind of frat in the world and I'm a weak or not strong enough to cope. And consistently they come up. And the reason that they consistently come up is that anxiety is a bias is that we don't remember all the times that we're strong and that we were good enough and that we did cope.

Speaker 1 (07:18):

And anxiety doesn't show us that. And when it's, it's a memory problem, right? When we have a situation where like can I deal with this? I cope and we goes to our memories and anxiety digs out all the time where things didn't go to plan and we weren't perfect. Never shows it all the times that we coped and we were strong enough. And that's why anxiety is a bias because it shows us the bad stuff and it doesn't show us the good stuff. And that's not representative of who we are or how we live. That is anxiety making us feel weak, making us feel useless.

Speaker 1 (08:01):

So what was the point of this lesson? What's the point? Well, if you have any of those worries and you're not alone, everyone is having those worries. Even people without an anxiety bias are having those worries. But it can be extra bad for anxiety sufferers because we also have those underlying beliefs that the world is super dangerous and we are weak. We are not good enough. We cannot cope. That's a bias and that's anxiety. That's what's going on and knowing that these are a really common worries and then we'll worry about them more because of this anxiety bias, not because they're that the genuine worries can often make us feel a lot by that. Hopefully that was useful. We're doing a bunch of these COVID-19 podcast videos, whatever, whatever format you're consuming with them. So I hope to see you again soon. Hit subscribe if you want to keep up to date and stay safe, safe, strong.


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