Christine Webber

There’s an awful lot of anxiety about and I’ve come to the conclusion it’s a legacy of the pandemic.

I also believe that we’ve been altered and damaged by Covid in ways which are only just emerging.

It’s not all bad, because many of us discovered positive points about ourselves during the lockdowns and feel some pride in our resilience over that period.

However, I do think we’re more stressed and worried than we were prior to March 2020.   
Perhaps it’s not surprising. Any therapist will tell you how people often cope magnificently with adverse situations at the time, but then go to pieces when the worst is past. 

I’ve seen this at first hand on more occasions than I can count.  

And we all know this happens to many military personnel who see, and have to do, unspeakable things during various conflicts – but then cannot rid themselves of the memories afterwards.

As a result, they’re sometimes diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. And I can’t help wondering if, as a nation, we may be going through a collective bout of PTSD.

I don’t want to sound melodramatic, but it might explain why so many of us are more anxious than we were. Also perhaps, why the numbers of people off sick with stress in the NHS and other organisations, is really high.    

Now, you might say that the whole world is going through a period of adjustment after Covid. That’s true. However, in the UK we’ve also had the massive changes caused by Brexit, and our cost of living crisis is worse than that of most other countries. No wonder we feel anxious. 

Last week on Twitter, I noticed a plea for help from someone who has a high profile because he works in the media.

I thought this was very brave as well as remarkably honest of him.

He described how he was having terrible anxiety attacks, how badly his sleep was affected, and also how distressed he becomes if he has to take a trip for work that he’s never made before. He wrote that this generated panic and left him terrified that he’d be stranded and unable to get home. 

Someone else I know told me of her anxieties. “I’ve always relished new challenges,” she told me. “I usually love adventures and adore being busy.

"But when anything unusual is on the cards now, I wake very early and am immediately aware of my heart beating faster than usual. It’s only when I feel worried, so I’m sure there’s no physical problem or anything, but it’s unpleasant and though I know I’m anxious, I’m at a loss to know why.”

These types of scenarios are cropping up all over the place and it’s really horrid for people – particularly if they have always perceived themselves as capable and competent. But I think the uncertainty in our lives now, and our recently acquired understanding that something hugely damaging and out of our control can come of the blue, is having an impact.   

It's as if we are trying to travel on a great big slippery ice rink and don’t know how to skate. 

So, what should we do? 

Research shows that only 8% of what makes us anxious is actually worth worrying about.

So, try not to overload the brain with material that doesn’t need sorting right now, and instead focus solely on what has to be tackled immediately. This should make the other worries recede slightly. Then, you may find that when you come to address them, they no longer have such power over you or seem important.  

Next, learn a good breathing technique. When you do, you can regard the strategy as your “go-to” friend in times of trouble.

One of the best is 7/11 breathing. And this is what I always resort to when I feel overwhelmed and panicky. All you do is breathe in slowly through your nose, to the count of seven, and breathe out, through your mouth, to the count of eleven.

This should ensure that you really empty your lungs before the next inward breath. And that’s important.

Keep doing it for about five minutes and you will become calmer, and your pulse will slow, and you’ll feel more normal. If need be, do it several times a day.  

Try mindfulness. This is a very good way of training the brain to concentrate on the present and not be distracted by stress and worry.

There are loads of different techniques to try, many of which are on the internet. I’ve even recorded one myself, which is online at

Also, don’t keep your anxiety to yourself.

Discuss it with sympathetic friends or family. You may well find they are having similar difficulties, so you can support each other. 
If things don’t improve, get some good information from a support group such as Anxiety UK. (

And if that doesn’t help, see your doctor. 

These are tough times, but most of us have experienced pressure and stress in the past and we’ve coped.

So, we have experience on our side, and this will see us through.