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7 ways to help you cope with worry

Student looking worried
Neil Da Costs
By Neil Da Costa, Senior Tax Lecturer Link to Neil Da Costa's LinkedIn profile

The pandemic, and all the coverage surrounding it, has led to unprecedented levels of anxiety. So here we list some ways to cope with stressful feelings.

For many of us, the unusual living conditions and increased isolation that has been forced upon us has caused a high level of worry*. Here are some practical steps we can take to combat those feelings:

  1. Clarify what you can and cannot control – By defining what you cannot control will allow you to focus on what you do have power over. There are things you can do such as turning to friends and family for support or activities you can participate in to change your mental state like: taking a short walk, having a warm drink, or reading a book.

  2. Create a family tradition – This year, many people are feeling stagnant as they have not been able to share the holidays with their loved ones. So why not consider creating your own sense of occasion? Create a family tradition such as preparing your favourite dish such as roast lamb, chicken biriyani, marble cake, apple strudel or a black forest gateau to mark the New Year. By doing this you can mark specific points in the calendar year, which is great for giving yourself a sense of structure and purpose.

  3. Thoughts are not facts – When worries pull you down, take note of the recurring thoughts and check the facts regarding it. Normally, 99% of our worries never come true. Ask yourself ‘What are the chances that this catastrophe will actually take place?’. If this thing you are worrying about is unlikely to happen, surely you can spend less time thinking about it.

  4. How bad is the worst case scenario? – Objectively think about the worst thing that can happen. Normally, we get caught up in our thought cycles without actually facing up to what we are actually afraid of. Once you know what the worst-case scenario is, you can then come up with a plan that will help you get through it. But don’t get too fixated on the negatives!

  5. Noting – If you find yourself worrying, you need to recognise it and take a step back from it. By naming and objectifying it e.g., ‘my black mood’, ‘I’m being pulled down by an undercurrent’, you can create a little bit of distance between yourself and your feelings. Take action to stop getting caught up in it. Many people get so used to worrying that they accept it as their default state.

  6. Complete your stress response – The natural human response to stress is fight or flight. With the pandemic we have been living in this heightened stressful condition for a long period so managing stress has become a part of everyday life for many of us. We can complete the stress response to this invisible threat by shaking it out. There are some good breathing techniques to aid with this, such as breathing in for 5 seconds, holding for 5 and breathing out. This is a proven technique that can help.**

  7. Soothing gestures – When a baby cries, the Mother hugs the baby, and the baby is immediately comforted. One technique that helps is after you shower, spend a few minutes giving yourself a self-massage so you feel comforted and supported.

Neil Da Costa is a longstanding Kaplan tutor and author of ‘Advanced Tax Condensed’, which consists of memory joggers and has been developed to be used in conjunction with the Kaplan study notes and exam kit.

For further information please visit or connect with him on LinkedIn.