Managing anxiety & stress during the coronavirus outbreak

18 March 2020
Mental health

The Coronavirus outbreak is having a huge impact on every aspect of daily life and the constant news about the pandemic can feel relentless. If you are currently undergoing (or have recently finished) treatment for ovarian cancer, you may be feeling particularly anxious.

In these challenging and uncertain times, it’s really important to ensure that you are taking care of your mental health.

1. Take breaks from the news

Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media.

If you find yourself getting overwhelmed, try practising the APPLE technique which encourages you to Acknowledge, Pause, Pull back, Let go and Explore.

2. Stick with sources of credible medical information

Avoid misinformation about the virus and the illness it causes. As part of the One Cancer Voice coalition of leading cancer charities, Ovarian Cancer Action is committed to providing the most up-to-date information, which you can find on our website.

We are reassured that the NHS will continue to provide cancer treatments as normal and, if it becomes necessary, prioritise some patients for hospital treatment. Cancer treatment plans would only be changed if there is no alternative. We understand that the NHS has conducted extensive work on supply chains to ensure a secure supply of necessary drugs.

3. Take care of your body. 

Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly if you can and get plenty of sleep. Make time to unwind. Try:

4. Connect with friends and loved ones 

If you are self-isolating, it is important to stay connected - whether that's through video chats, phone calls, texting or email. It really helps to feel the strength of your connections to your friends and loved ones, even though you may not be with them in person. 

You might also find it helpful to speak to other ovarian cancer patients on the Ovacome forum, who may be experiencing the same feelings. 

5. Name your emotions

Research has shown that labelling emotions lessens the intensity of the feeling by bridging the gap between thoughts and feelings. So try saying it out loud the next time you are feeling anxious, “I am anxious!” It helps – a lot.

6. Join a Staying Connected webinar

We are regularly running webinars about managing anxiety on our Staying Connected programme in partnership with our friends at Ovacome.