Tips to help manage anxiety in uncertain times

Tips to help manage anxiety in uncertain times


Author - Karen Linehan, Health Psychologist

Having a heart or lung condition and/or recovering from treatment (including transplantation) can be an extremely busy, overwhelming and anxiety provoking period for patients and their loved ones.

In 2020, this has been further complicated by the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic which has presented unique challenges for cardiac and lung patients and their loved ones surrounding treatment options, waiting periods, face to face appointments, peer support as well as rehabilitation, and recovery.

Now more than ever, it is important to take time to practice strategies of self-care which can be a crucial way to reduce anxiety. Following are my top tips to help lower anxiety for you and/or your loved ones to try.

Structure and routine are important for success

Breathing techniques

  • Get yourself in a comfortable position and close your eyes.
  • Breathe in through your nose as much as possible (imagine there is a balloon in your stomach that you are trying to inflate).
  • Breathe out slowly through your mouth (feel the balloon deflate).
  • Repeat these steps for 10-20 minutes
  • As you do this exercise say to/remind yourself “this is not an emergency”

Recording your thoughts helps you visualise and analyse them

  • Allow yourself 20 minutes per day.
  • Draw or write down your worries. Or write down the topic and focus your attention on the issue.
  • Once time is up, put the problem and anything you have written or drawn away.
  • Switch your attention away from the issue.
  • Remind yourself that worries are for ‘worry time’

Our thoughts influence our emotions and behaviours

The following steps can help identify and reframe an unhelpful thought and hence influence emotions and our behaviours in a positive way:

  1. Identify an unhelpful thought or thinking pattern e.g. “There is no point in even trying”
  2. Consider whether there is any evidence to back up this thought? Is the evidence valid?
  3. Reframe with: “Is there another way I can look at this?”
  4. Replace the negative thought with a positive statement.

Check out the full story in the latest Circulator -