A LEADING psychologist has warned against too many pyjama days and box set binges during the coronavirus outbreak.

Dr Christopher Hand is urging people to “stay positive” during the pandemic and see the crisis as a chance for new opportunities. The Glasgow Caledonian University psychology lecturer and researcher said sitting glued to 24-hour news or trawling social media will only feed anxiety.

His top tips include watching the news only once or twice a day and using social media only to stay in touch with friends and family.

“Sitting glued to 24-hour news and scaremongering on social media can feed uncertainty and anxiety,” he said.

Hand continued: “The situation is changing so rapidly it is difficult for people to have feelings of control and research tells us that can be a big driver of anxiety.”

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The cyber psychology expert said the recent panic buying was a result of all the uncertainty and the circulation of anxiety inducing snippets on social media.

Pressure on supplies at supermarkets could be eased, he suggested, if people avoided social media news feeds with pictures of empty shelves and shopped only for what they needed, rather than what they wanted.

“People have been going into preservation mode and are acting in extreme ways,” Hand said.

“It’s the fight or flight kind of behaviour when you are entering into a survival situation.

“Fear and panic starts to spread like a virus, you see other people doing it and that preys on your own uncertainties. You are likely to see a bit more of that happening but we all have to try to restore some kind of normality.

The psychologist added: “Get your news from reputable sources once or twice a day, be very critical of what you see on social media and avoid reading unvetted opinion.”

He said that while a small amount of anxiety is not an issue as it can help keep people safe, it becomes problematic when high levels of intrusive and unwelcome thoughts are experienced.

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Hand added that thinking positively, seeing the crisis as a chance to do things that have been put off and helping and thinking about others will help to lift people’s moods.

He said everyone should stay as close as possible to what is normal for them.

“Whether someone is on their own or in a group, people have to look after themselves as well as looking after vulnerable others,” Hand commented.

“There’s a few straightforward ways in which to do this – the World Health Organisation is particularly keen to emphasise self-care.

“If you are healthy and well enough it’s important to keep to a routine, get up and move around, get ready, prepare your lunch, have your breakfast, set working hours, breaks.

“See this as opportunity to learn a new skill or language, dig out your old musical instrument, play board games with your kids, do some DIY, tidy the garden.

“One or two pyjama days are fine but don’t lounge around all day every day watching box sets.”