Anxiety pandemic has hit the nation’s youth, says mind coach

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As many as two-fifths of the population, including children, have developed “Covid anxiety” because of a campaign of fear since the pandemic started, claims author Don Macpherson. Many people have been left with a “general feeling of malaise” where they have lost their “enthusiasm, direction and love for life” and seem unable to get it back, he says. 

He argued that daily death and infection figures, along with messages to isolate or warnings not to “visit Granny because you will kill her”, had triggered mental fatigue and hypnotised people to believe the worst will happen. 

This anxiety has led to a significant increase in depression, phobias and conditions such as OCD or eating disorders, and a loss of confidence, particularly among youngsters.

Mr Macpherson has coached sports stars for more than 30 years. They include 1996 Formula One world champion Damon Hill and 1987 Wimbledon champ Pat Cash, England rugby internationals Anthony Watson and George Ford, and, more recently, children in sports academies.

He pointed out that anxiety has affected people who seemed without worries before Covid.

But he said they can learn to retrain their minds to overcome the condition, learn how to be calmer, more relaxed and confident, and reconnect to the person they were before the pandemic.

He said there had always been anxiety before Covid-19 but added: “The anxiety, the worry, the fear has now become the real pandemic.

“There was a huge increase in anxiety levels right from the very first lockdown. From that moment on, there has been almost a campaign of fear.

“I have seen that in people who were the happiest people that I have met ‑ real larger-than-life characters. Somebody said to me the other day, ‘For the first time in my life I wake up with this general feeling of being flat, of losing my enthusiasm, direction, my love for life. And I don’t seem to be able to get it back’.”

Mr Macpherson went on: “The pandemic and lockdowns have caused our brains to be significantly fatigued. We are low on mental energy as our brains have been beaten up.

“When we are fearful, worried, stressed or even just mentally fatigued we are far more prone to believe what we are told.

“You could say that we have been brain-washed by being constantly subjected to the various scientists and specialists reminding us to be on guard, vigilant, because the virus is still out there, still a big threat, etc.”

He added: “The collateral damage of these lockdowns, especially to our youngsters, has been badly underestimated and it may be some time before we find out.”

While Mr Macpherson acknowledged that Covid is a very serious illness, he believes it is now time to “get our heads around it” and learn to live with it. Excessive vigilance ‑ monitoring daily statistics and coverage of the virus ‑ can keep people trapped, he warns.

He said: “I see people in their own cars with masks on and think how scared must they be?

“It’s their prerogative and choice, of course, but there is still a very high percentage of people who are clearly very scared.

“That shows you just what a good job we have done in frightening them.”

However, there is some good news. People can beat their Covid anxiety by using 10 simple “brain-tuning tools” outlined in Mr Macpherson’s book, How To Master Your Monkey Mind.

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He explained how Buddhists refer to their inner chattering voice as the “monkey mind” and so overcoming anxiety “comes down to being able to master your own inner voice”.

He said: “It has helped so many people to have a better banter with their own monkey mind and to understand, therefore, not to listen and believe everything your monkey tells you.

“People need to accept that if they are going to keep watching the news and taking notice of the latest Covid figures they are potentially, possibly, in a trance and may well have been for many months.”

He added the brain-tuning tools in his book have been used and road-tested by cardiac and neurosurgeons, sports stars, TV personalities and ordinary people .

Tips include advice such as understanding and changing how you breathe in order to help you face down anxiety, and how to use “progressive language” to mind the monkey chatter in your head.

He also offers advice on how to take a calmer approach to life, replacing haste and pace with serenity and tranquility, and using the power of your brain to boost your immune system, get well, stay well and improve the quality of your sleep.

There is a free 20-minute audio message on Mr Macpherson’s website:

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