The current crisis is affecting many people all around the world, and healthcare workers in particular. You may find that you’re thinking too much about the pandemic, and can’t switch off.
Worrying is normal
Feeling worried is normal at a time like this, but worry can be very distressing. It can disturb your concentration, and make it harder to focus on your job. It can also make it hard to relax and impair your sleep and relationships with family and friends.
Worry can take the form of images
The things you worry about might pop up into your mind as images or pictures. These images might be memories of things that have happened to you — for example, at work. They can also be images of things you have seen in the media or of things that could happen in the future. As well as being a visual picture, they might also include sounds, smells or many senses together. They can be brief and fleeting, or as vivid and detailed as if they are happening right now.
These images can be a problem
These images can be very distressing and emotional, and even make you feel panicky. They can be extremely absorbing and disturbing, making it hard to concentrate on what you are doing, or to interact with people. You might find you try to block them out.
There are ways to cope
At the moment, one of the top tips for coping with anxiety from Every Mind Matters, recommended by the UK government, is to shift your focus.
Certain activities help block out distressing images
Doing activities that occupy the same ‘visual space’ in your brain as the troubling images, can make the images less upsetting, and less vivid and absorbing. This might make you feel better, and make it easier to get on with the things that matter to you.
Some people find playing games like Tetris® very helpful
One activity that engages your brain in a visual way is to play the computer game Tetris. Research has shown that this activity is most effective when it is played in a particular way. Not all visual activities (for example looking at Instagram) are equally effective.
Tetris is visually absorbing
Tetris is a simple block puzzle game that involves planning ahead and rotating different shaped blocks, known as Tetriminos, in your mind. Tetris is an absorbing game, and in this game intervention, it uses your brain in the right way to shift your focus away from your worries.
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