The coronavirus pandemic is a confusing, stressful time for all of us. Everything has changed so quickly. For many people, the uncertainty of the situation is the hardest thing to handle. Uncertainty makes it easy to catastrophize and focus on worst-case scenarios. So what can you do when you start to worry?
- Focus on what is within your control. When you feel yourself worrying about what might happen, try to shift your focus to the present and identify the things you can control. You can’t control how severe the coronavirus outbreak is or the restrictions being imposed on society, but you can take steps to reduce your own personal risk and the risk of spreading it to others. For example, following recommendations from health authorities, washing your hands frequently, staying at home as much as possible, keeping 6 feet of distance between yourself and others, getting plenty of sleep, and practicing self-care are all within your control.
- Reframe your thinking. Instead of “I am stuck inside,” change your mindset to “This is a chance to focus on myself and my family.” If you approach this situation from the vantage point of being trapped, you will undoubtedly experience heightened anxiety and stress. Remember, this is an opportunity to slow down and focus on yourself.
- Practice self-care. Now more than ever, it’s important to be kind to yourself. This is a stressful time for everyone, and it’s okay if you feel more anxious than usual, and it’s okay to take time to manage your mental health. Eat a balanced diet, engage in physical activity, get plenty of sleep, and pursue the things you enjoy in and around home. Remember, you are doing the best you can in an unprecedented time.
- Stay informed, but don’t check the news obsessively. Constant monitoring can become compulsive and counterproductive to your mental health. Set guidelines for your media consumption. Try to check the news only once a day. If watching the news feels overwhelming, ask someone you trust to share necessary updates with you. It is also important to seek out stories of hope, such as reading articles about the ways people and companies are providing assistance during this time of crisis.
- Stick to trustworthy sources. There is a lot of misinformation regarding the pandemic, so it’s important to be discerning about what you read and watch. Focus on credible outlets such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Worldwide Health Organization (WHO), and your local public health authorities.
- Connect with loved ones via phone, Skype, Facetime, and the like. Social distancing does not mean social isolation, especially with modern technologies. Connecting with people you care about is a helpful antidote to stress and isolation.
- Provide help, if you are able. Helping others in need can have a positive impact on your mood and can make you feel more in control and less anxious. Consider reaching out to people in your neighborhood who may need assistance with getting groceries (you can leave them by their door), donating to a local food bank, or donating blood. Many communities have created social media groups to coordinate ways to provide help.
- Seek professional support. Signs you may benefit from extra help include:
- You can’t think about anything other than the coronavirus
- Your anxiety interferes with your daily life
- You feel hopeless or angry about the situation
- You have experienced changes in eating or sleeping
- You have physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, or dizziness
You do not need to move through these uncertain times alone. Help is available. Reach out today to schedule your free consultation.