Alarming headlines about COVID-19 have many feeling anxious. We promise this is not one of them.
Uncertainty is not human’s favorite feeling. With Covid-19 cases spiking around the globe, the constant flow of alarming headlines, and the ever-growing alerts of closings and cancellations that disrupt the daily routine, it’s no wonder a lot of us –especially those who suffer from anxiety or other mental issues– are feeling the stress.
We understand this can have a significant detrimental impact not only on the quality of life but on overall health as well. Headaches, stomach problems, and high blood pressure are among the many physical symptoms caused by constant worry and stress.
But although it is important to take this situation very seriously and to follow the guidelines to avoid exposure and contagion –such as exercising social distancing and thoroughly washing hands regularly– it is also important to implement a plan to remain calm.
Here’s what you can do for your—and other’s—sake:
“The most important thing is to analyze the facts, statistics and data, instead of letting ourselves be carried away by irrational fears, myths, or an overload of false or catastrophic information on social networks,” says Miriam Rodríguez, Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC), Master’s Level Certified Addiction Professional (MCAP), who practices in Miami, Florida.
According to Rodríguez, we must “not let panic and anxiety take control and make us lose perspective of the situation. Information, education and preventive measures are the key,” she adds.
Below are some of Rodriguez’s tips to help put things in perspective and remain calm, centered and effective during these trying times.
- Acknowledge the fear or anxiety, but find active ways to divert your attention. This can mean taking time to do the things you normally enjoy, such as reading, crafting, immersing in a relaxing bath, listening to music, or binge-watching a favorite TV show.
- Do breathing exercises to center and calm
- Focus on the things you can control, such as staying informed and taking preventive measures
- Be flexible about the changes to your daily routine
- Yoga, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation and mindfulness practices (staying focused on the present moment whatever you are doing), can have a deeply calming effect
- Reframe negative thoughts with positive healthy ones. For example, remember that the outbreak will eventually pass and there are ways to minimize your risk
- Spend quality time with family and friends. For those who need to self-isolate, this can be as simple as a phone call, text or video chat
- Exercise (if there are no medical issues against it), eat healthy and get enough sleep. These are great restoratives for body, mind and spirit
- It’s important to be informed, but avoid becoming consumed with every headline. Moderation is the key. The Florida Health Department’s COVID-19 Call Center is available 24/7 +1 (866) 779-6121 or email COVIDfirstname.lastname@example.org
- Worried about how to talk to kids about coronavirus? “While it is important to teach them basic preventive measures, like washing their hands, it must be done without instilling fear or anxiety,” says Rodriguez. “According to their age, explain that it’s a virus, avoiding catastrophic comments. On the contrary, answer their questions in a calm and positive manner. Also, prepare them psychologically for possible changes in their routines, such as classes being cancelled.”
In times of uncertainty, the only thing we can control is our outlook on the situation. However, if you still feel overwhelmed by anxiety or depression, get professional help if you need it.