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Coping with anxiety about the future due to COVID-19

COVID-19 has affected our lives in many ways. Our bloggers share their worries about how it may affect their future, as well as their tips for coping.

I'm worried about the long-term effects on my mental health

Rachel, 21

My OCD contamination fears have worsened in the context of COVID-19 and, unfortunately, my behaviours have become more restrictive. My OCD is making it hard for me to relax and go along with the easing of restrictions. This, compounded by the increased demand for support services, makes me fearful that these ‘habits’ will become more permanent.

Additionally, I’m worried about studying remotely for my next year at university - I fear that my grades will suffer, especially given the state of my mental health. Although, I am very fortunate in that my family have kept their jobs and I have not had to work, which I know has not been the case for others, I feel the pressure to do work experience, internships and start networking. All these activities have been physically impossible for me (given that I have been shielding) and now feel even more mentally challenging than they were pre-pandemic. Now it is not only social anxiety that would make this difficult but also heightened contamination fears, which currently make it hard for me to even consider being in the same room as other people. I worry that not doing these things now will affect my job prospects in the future; now that such activities are not ‘banned’, I worry that I will not be able to explain these gaps in my CV.

My OCD contamination fears have worsened in the context of COVID-19 and, unfortunately, my behaviours have become more restrictive.
Rachel, 21

I am trying to be kind to myself about struggling more and not being able to do the extra things I feel I ‘have’ to do to become ‘employable’. I know that currently it is more important to focus on getting through the ‘now’. I am also trying to find alternative routes, such as online volunteering opportunities, and reminding myself that I am not the only person in this position or with these worries.

My apprenticeship was cancelled

Saskia, 20

I am an aspiring solicitor and I chose to gain experience and qualifications through the apprenticeship route. However, two weeks before the assessment centre (the final stage of recruitment for an apprenticeship) the opportunity was no longer available. At this point, I felt very disheartened because I had prepared so much for this opportunity that was no longer available. I was also very anxious about my next steps. It is likely that apprenticeship opportunities will be available in 2021, but I was not sure what to do in the meantime. I feel frightened about how uncertain my future is.

In order to cope with these anxieties, I tried to counter negative thoughts with more optimistic ones. Instead of focusing on the disappointment I felt, I tried to see this as a positive opportunity to grow as an individual. I have been taking part in virtual work experience in law, which has been a very motivating and exciting experience! I have also followed firms on LinkedIn as a way of keeping up to date with the legal world. I try to balance these kinds of activities with my hobbies, exercise and getting a good night’s sleep, which really help me manage my anxiety.

Instead of focusing on the disappointment I felt, I tried to see this as a positive opportunity to grow as an individual.
Saskia, 20

I'm worried about starting my master's degree

Lauren, 21

COVID-19 came at one of the most important times of my life – my final year of university. In September 2020, I am due to begin a master’s degree. In a normal time, this is something that I would obviously be extremely excited and enthusiastic about; however, in the current situation, panic and doubt fill my mind constantly.

One of my main concerns about the future is that right now there seems to be very little hope of finding a job and/or practical work experience in the relevant field, due to obvious restrictions. To some, this may not be the end of the world, but the implications this will have on my academic career may be astronomical, and I’m worried that this will hold me back. I am also worried about whether there will be any jobs left when I come out of university. I have even begun to wonder if my degree will be wasted.

In a normal time, this is something that I would obviously be extremely excited and enthusiastic about; however, in the current situation, panic and doubt fill my mind constantly.
Lauren, 21

In order to cope with these worries, I have found it helpful to remind myself that every other student is in the same situation currently. People may be better at coping; however, they are still facing the same battle. This helps with feelings of isolation - that despite feeling panic, anger and worry, I can confidently say I am not alone.

Similarly, I have found that to be in the present moment and live for now is crucial to being able to successfully cope with any anxieties. Next month I will be beginning the master’s degree of my dreams, helping me well on my way to progress into my chosen field. I have worked so hard to get to this point in my life, doing what I love and am passionate about, so I want to try to appreciate what is happening in the current moment, no matter how bleak the future may look. It is hard but rewarding to be grateful for what we have now, and to move away from worrying about what we may or may not have in an uncertain future. I am progressing in what I enjoy, and that is enough for me right now.

It is hard but rewarding to be grateful for what we have now, and to move away from worrying about what we may or may not have in an uncertain future.
Lauren, 21

Tips for coping

Laura, 21

I don’t think that there’s one correct way to cope with the feelings of uncertainty that this pandemic has brought, but I’d like to share with you some of the techniques that have helped me during this time:

  1. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself – this is easier said than done, but it’s so important to remind yourself daily that you are not in control of this situation and you should be proud of yourself for simply managing to get through each day.
  2. Try to plan for a few different outcomes – as previously mentioned, we shouldn’t worry too much about the pandemic affecting our futures as we cannot control it; however, what has brought me some comfort is planning for a few potential outcomes and this has allowed me to regain a sense of control of my life.
  3. Talk to somebody about how you are feeling – I think that a lot of us think that we have to get through this situation on our own and that we shouldn’t bother others with our worries as they have their own situations to deal with, but talking is so important. Speaking to somebody about how you are feeling provides an outlet for your emotions and I have definitely felt more relieved after sharing a worry with either a friend or a family member – it’s also nice to check in on those around you.
I have definitely felt more relieved after sharing a worry with either a friend or a family member.
Laura, 21

Remember, that everybody is in the same situation and nobody has it figured out completely – you are not alone and there will be a light at the end tunnel. Take time for yourself, be kind to yourself and most importantly, please talk to somebody if you feel as though your mental health is suffering.

Where to get help

If you are struggling with your mental health, have a look at our Find help guide for information, tips and suggestions on where to get help.

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