Ask Jigsaw:Daughter stressed about Coronavirus |Advice for Young People

Ask Jigsaw: Daughter stressed about Coronavirus

Hi Jigsaw could you please help me please. How can I help my daughter who is so stressed about the virus, she’s not sleeping and crying that she might have the virus or she will give it to us and her young son, there are five of us in a small bungalow and we are in our late sixties. She has already rang the doctor a few times and said he sounded worse then her and if she went in to see him and if she hadn’t the virus he would give it to her. She afraid to leave the house. When we come back with the shopping, we have to remove all the packaging and change our clothes. She is stressing all of us all out, because of our age we are trying to hold it together ourselves. I don’t know how to reassure her that everything will be OK.


Ultimately, the fear is understandable but we need to try to take as balanced a view as we can.

Jenny, Jigsaw Clinician

Hi J,

That’s a really difficult situation, with lots of different and understandable worries for you and your daughter. It sounds like you are taking all of the precautions advised by the HSE, which will definitely lessen the likelihood of contracting the virus.

You are trying really hard to reassure your daughter that everything will be OK, and yet she is still stressing out. With fear, sometimes we feel the emotion and are almost afraid to examine what it’s really about. It might be helpful to ask your daughter to sit down and name all the actual worries, ‘what-ifs’ and worst case scenarios that are going through her head. Together you can take each of these fears and worries and examine them. What is the evidence that this is likely to happen? What is the evidence against it? When you have done this, can you come up with a more balanced thought pattern?

For example:

Fear: Someone in my family will get Coronavirus and die.

Evidence for: There is a global pandemic and people are getting sick. People have died because of it.

Evidence against: Most people in Ireland don’t have Coronavirus. The majority of people who get Coronavirus don’t die. Our family is following the advice about social distancing. We do not have symptoms. The GP is a health professional with lots of experience. If we get symptoms the healthcare system has plans in place to support us.

When it comes to looking at evidence for and against, it is vital to stick to information from official sources such as the HSE. The information from news feeds and WhatsApp threads cannot be verified and does not hold up.

Ultimately, the fear is understandable. We can’t say with 100% certainty that it won’t happen, but based on the evidence, the likelihood is small. We need to try to take as balanced a view as we can.

Balanced thought: There is a chance that our family might be affected by Coronavirus, but we are doing what we can and we will take each day at time.

Help your daughter to see the strengths that she has which will help her to cope with the current situation and anything that might happen.

Jenny, Jigsaw Clinician

When you are talking through the fears, help your daughter to see her strengths, These will help her to cope with the current situation and anything that might happen. Point out how she has dealt with challenging situations before. Encourage her to think about all of the supports in her life which she can draw on over the next while.

Many people are experiencing anxiety about their own health. Read more about anxiety about health and Coronavirus. You also mentioned that your daughter is not sleeping which can really impact on our mental health. Read some tips for helping with sleep.

It sounds like you are really being affected by your daughter’s stress too. When you are in such a small space for long periods of time, boundaries will be important. Perhaps you could agree to only discuss the Coronavirus, symptoms, or stress for a certain amount of time per day. Encourage her to use other resources, for example Crisis Text Line, text TALK to 086 1800 280. if she feels she has to share her worries outside of this time.

Jenny, Jigsaw Clinician

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