Stephen Fry reveals advice on dealing with anxiety during self-isolation

Stephen Fry has given some tips for managing anxiety and stress whilst self-isolating.

The coronavirus pandemic has seen self-isolation and social distancing measures implemented all over the world this month.

English actor, writer, and Mind mental health ambassador Stephen Fry spoke to the BBC’s Andrew Marr yesterday about ways of coping with the current situation.

The 62-year-old national treasure said: “One of the things to be positive about is that self-isolating – being alone either as a family, as a couple, in whatever group you are, or literally solitary – is that you have to redefine your sense of time.

“Time suddenly alters completely in these situations. And I think a very important idea is to draw up some sort of timetable, if you like.

“It can a physical thing, it can be on the wall, on a blackboard, or just on a piece of paper. You can take more time to do everything.

“But you can also turn off the notifications on your phones and tablets and other devices, so that you’re not bombarded by headlines. Believe me, if anything really important happens, you’ll find out about it.

“Decide on a time to look in on the news, maybe 11 in the morning, and then 3 in the afternoon, or for one of the press conferences…

“But there’s so much noise. Everybody wants to have a point of view. Everybody wants either to show how splendid they are or how awful the world is. People want to paint a picture of the apocalypse.

“But the fact is, if you listen to the scientific advisers, they almost always begin every sentence with ‘we think’, ‘it’s possible’, ‘maybe’, ‘perhaps’, ‘we don’t know, but…’ – that’s how experts talk, people who really understand it.”

Responding to Andrew Marr’s suggestion that we have to live with uncertainty, Fry agreed: “And that’s not a bad thing. I mean, it’s anxious-making to some extent. But what it allows you to do is blank out all those people [non-experts online] who claim to know what’s going on … people who say ‘I’ve got a friend who works in government who…’ – it’s almost always nonsense and and it proliferates online and it’s a kind of virus in itself.

“Anxiety and stress are almost as virulent as this awful coronavirus.”

If you’re struggling right now or need advice to help someone else, there’s lots of useful information specifically about coping with the coronavirus crisis on the Mind website here.

The guide includes checklists, suggestions for keeping active, plans for working at home, and ideas for keeping your mind stimulated.

Several TV series and movies have postponed filming due to the pandemic, including the sixth season of Peaky Blindersthe next Fantastic Beasts movie, and the new season of Call the Midwife.

Luckily, the makers of The Crown sped through Season 4‘s final scenes last week and filming is now complete.

Stephen Fry’s autobiography The Fry Chronicles is available on Amazon.