Coronavirus Anxiety: Coping with Stress, Fear, and Worry

Fears about COVID-19 can take an emotional toll, especially if you are already living with anxiety. But you are not powerless.

Understanding your anxiety

We are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. and all of us are watching the headlines and wondering, “What is going to happen next?” We don’t know how exactly we’ll be impacted or how bad things might get. And that makes it all too easy to spiral out into overwhelming panic.

Stay informed but don’t obsessively check the news

It’s vital to stay informed about what’s happening in your community, so you can follow advised safety precautions and do your part to slow the spread of coronavirus. But there is a lot of misinformation going around that only feeds into fear.

  1. Stick to trustworthy sources such as the CDC, the World Health Organization, and your local public health authorities.

  2. Limit how often you check for updates. The limit is different for everyone, so pay attention to how you’re feeling and adjust accordingly, limiting your media consumption to a specific time frame and time of day

Focus on the things you can control

When you feel yourself getting caught up in fear of what might happen, try to shift your focus to things you can control. You can’t control the coronavirus outbreak but you can take steps to reduce your own personal risk (and the risk you’ll unknowingly spread it to others), such as:

  1. washing your hands frequently with soap and water

  2. avoiding touching your face

  3. stay home as much as possible

  4. avoid gatherings of 10 or more people.

  5. keeping 6 feet of distance between yourself and others when out.

Stay connected—even when physically isolated

Evidence shows that people with coronavirus don’t have symptoms right away but can still spread the virus. The biggest thing we can do right now to make a positive difference is to practice social distancing.

We are hardwired for connection. Isolation and loneliness can elevate anxiety and impact our physical health. It’s important to stay connected as best we can and reach out for support when we need it, even as we cut back on in-person socializing.

  1. Stay in touch with friends and family with regular phone chats. Skype, Zoom or Face Time gives you the chance to see your friends and family and help to ease stress and anxiety.

  2. Social media is great for connecting with friends, family, and feeling connected in a greater sense to our communities. It reminds us we’re not alone. Be mindful of how social media is making you feel and don’t hesitate to mute people who are elevating your anxiety.

  3. Take a break from talking about coronavirus and simply enjoy each other’s company - laugh, share stories, and focus on other things going on in life.

Take care of your body and spirit

Be kind to yourself, if you’re experiencing more anxiety than usual. You’re not alone and it is important to maintain a routine as best you can. Even if you’re stuck at home, try to stick to your regular sleep, school, meal, or work schedule. This can help you maintain a sense of normalcy.

Read a good book, watch a comedy, play a fun board or video game, make something—whether it’s a new recipe, a craft, or a piece of art. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as it takes you out of your worries.

Sunshine and fresh air will do you good. Take a walk around your neighborhood to feel better. Just keep your distance from people you encounter and obey restrictions in your area.

Stay active to release anxiety. While you’re at home, look online for exercise videos you can follow. There are many things you can do even without equipment, such as yoga and exercises that use your own bodyweight.

Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can bring you back into a state of equilibrium. Regular practice delivers the greatest benefits, so see if you can set aside even a little time every day.

Help others (it will make you feel better)

At times like this, it is important to remember that we’re all in this together. Doing kind and helpful acts for others can help you regain a sense of control over your life—as well as adding meaning and purpose.

Even when you’re self-isolating or maintaining social distance, there’s still plenty you can do to help others.

  • Perhaps an older neighbor needs help with groceries or a prescription? You can always leave packages on their doorstep to avoid direct contact.

  • Panic-buying and hoarding have not only left grocery store shelves stripped bare but have also reduced supplies to food banks. You can help older adults, low-income families, and others in need by donating food or cash.

Speak up if you hear negative stereotypes that only promote prejudice. With the right outlook and intentions, we can all ensure that kindness and charity spread throughout our communities even faster than this virus.

Love and good vibrations to you all,

Lee Pryke

I am only a phone call away!

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