Posted on Mar 13, 2020, 5 p.m.
Most people are worried about all the news surrounding COVID-19 and the respiratory illness and death it can cause. This is perfectly natural, and makes sense when something is new and we are just trying to figure it out. While it is important to stay informed, one must not obsess on it and cause yourself extra stress on top of the feelings of anxiety that you may already be having.
We’ve taken some tips from Harvard Health Publishing’s Coronavirus Resource Center that may be helpful to you. Please also be aware that those who often struggle with anxiety, and worries about their health, have obsessive thoughts and actions may need additional assistance to help them make it through this trying time where it is all you can see everywhere.
Knowing how to manage anxiety takes a little thought. What happens to your body when you are stressed and let those worries mount, how are you worried, what do you fear the most, and what usually helps you to deal with and handle your worries? When anxiety rises when we are facing distressing situations which we have no control over such as this outbreak, we have to focus on what tends to work for us to ease anxiety. Maybe even doing a little more of some actions and a little less of others to keep your mind off of anxious thoughts. What works for you may be similar to what works for others, but we are individuals and as such tend to have our own preferences and best practices.
Try to stay connected with friends and family through video chats, texts, emails and phone calls, this will help you to feel the strength from those connections even though you may not be able to actually see them face to face in person.
As far as staying informed is concerned stick with credible medical sources of information so you can avoid misinformation about the virus. Celebrities are not credible sources, and neither are “friends” on social media. Go right to the credible medical sources. Don’t focus on hype or worry about misinformation. Stick with those updates from credible medical sources say once a day or again at the end of the day if you really need to check. There is absolutely no need to stay tuned 24/7 this will make anxiety worse.
Many people who are infected can develop symptoms such as a dry cough and fever during the incubation period, but many may not even display symptoms. This virus is airborne as such can spread through coughing, sneezing and breathing as the viral droplets travel through the air. Droplets can be breathed in or land on surfaces that may be touched such as a door handle, elevator button, hand rail, ATM, store card terminal, or crosswalk button to name a few making hand washing very important. Hand sanitizer is good when nothing else is available but this should be followed up with soap and water as soon as possible as sanitizer will not remove all the microbes.
During this time we do need to be a little more careful and cautious, but once key precautionary measures are adopted take a deep breath and calm yourself. You don’t need to be on high alert all the time, and it is really not helpful. Safety is a basic need, but staying on full alert 24/7 will eventually tear you down both physically and emotionally, it is far better to adjust your level of alertness based on your immediate surroundings. Once you return home wash those hands and try to find ways to relax and feel safe again.
Yoga, deep breathing, stretching, exercise, and meditation are tried and true methods to help you relax. Neither need to be difficult or require special equipment and clothing. There are tons of instructional videos you can order or follow along with online, including apps for your phone or tablet to do in the safety of your home. Following a healthy diet and eating those good food choices that you are familiar with whenever possible can also be relaxing.
Perhaps listening to music, dancing, reading, doing a puzzle, painting, or some form of arts and crafts may help you to relax and unwind. Maybe getting in a few laughs by listening or watching some comedy might take your mind off things and help you to relax as well; and those adorable baby animal videos are fantastic smile makers. Don’t forget about the importance of reaching out to friends and family who may also be able to bring you some happiness and comfort even if they are not in the room with you.
When it comes down to it we are all on this journey together, and most likely news about this virus will get worse before it gets better. Ignore everything but credible medical sources with trained and certified public health experts who will try and help us through the path ahead and take sensible steps that can help us all. In the meantime get your bearings, ensure that you are practicing good hygiene, use calming strategies that work for you, and maybe some new ones too. Making these healthy and reasonable choices regarding what to do and what not to do will make a difference in being able to stay safe as long as possible and help relieve anxiety.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement