Advice for teenagers worrying about coronavirus

It is perfectly understandable if you feel scared and worried about what is happening in the world because of coronavirus, especially if you are already having a few psychological problems for other reasons.

You may be worried about your own health or that of someone else, and how the virus will affect your life. You may have feelings of unreality, difficulty concentrating or you’re feeling very angry. Or you might not be feeling anything different at all, this is also quite normal. Here are some tips that might be helpful.

Talk to someone else about what you’re thinking and how you’re feeling

Although it is normal to feel anxious, it is important that you tell someone what you’re feeling and thinking about. This is especially important if you are becoming emotional and you don’t really see how things will be able to return to normal again. Sharing thoughts, questions and feelings with someone helps, as does facing all the uncertainty of this situation together. Talk to someone you trust – a friend, someone in the family, a teacher or another adult. On this page, you can find links to various helplines that you can contact anonymously.

If you are receiving treatment, continue with it

If you are being treated for mental health problems, it is important that you try to stick to the treatment plan that has been made for you. If you are taking any medication, continue taking it as usual. Contact your clinic if necessary and if you have any questions. This is especially important if you notice that you are beginning to feel much worse psychologically. The current focus on the prevention and treatment of coronavirus should not prevent you from seeking psychiatric care if you need it.

Get information from trusted sources, but don’t let it overwhelm you

There is a constant flow of new information about coronavirus, what different countries are doing to try to limit the infection and how the virus is affecting the whole world. Having a lot of information can give you a sense of control but try to be aware of the source of the information. Not everything that is found on social media is true and some information just makes you more worried. Keep an eye on the situation by accessing information from the authorities’ websites and 1177 Vårdguiden.

Try to limit the time you spend surfing the internet and on social media. Take a break from social media if you feel it’s all getting too much. Remember that you are in control of your information flow. Remove, block or unfollow anyone who makes you more worried. If you have problems ignoring the news flow, try to find something to do that will make you think of other things. Go for a walk, talk to a friend, watch a film or listen to music.

Find out what you can do

If you feel frightened or panicked by the virus, remind yourself that there are practical things you can do to reduce the spread of the virus. There are many tips on 1177 about washing your hands, covering your nose and mouth with your sleeve when you sneeze and cough, staying at home if you have any of the symptoms or feel ill, etc.

It could be that these tips just increase your anxiety and trigger obsessions and actions related to washing and hygiene. If this is the case for you, tell someone about it. Ask them to help you and let people around you know what is helpful to you and what is not.

Remember, the recommendations on washing your hands are there to protect you and others from infection, but there is a limit to what you can do. Whatever happens, try to be kind to yourself.

Keep to your routines

When much is uncertain and unknown, it helps to keep to your usual routines. This helps to keep a sense of normality. You may want to add some activities now that make you feel calmer but try to make your days as similar to your everyday life as possible. Get up, eat and sleep at the times you usually do.

Find things to help you feel calmer

As always, it is important that you try to keep yourself in good shape both physically and mentally. Don’t forget activities that usually help if you feel stressed and anxious, such as writing down how you feel, using breathing techniques, playing music or talking to a friend.

Think ahead and try to prepare yourself

You may need to stay home for a period ahead, either because you fall ill with a fever and cough or because the school is closed or has introduced remote learning measures. Talk to your family about what this will be like for you, and what you think and feel about it. You may feel a little sad and see it as difficult and challenging. But you can also try to think of it as an opportunity to live a slightly different life. Think about what you would like to do during the time at home. How will you stay in touch with others and what should you prioritise in order to feel good about the situation? Planning for this can help you feel less anxious.

The current situation will pass

Coronavirus has meant that right now we have a very difficult situation in Sweden and around the world. But it will pass. Things will get back to normal again, but right now no one really knows how long this will take.