You would have to be living under a rock to not have heard about the Coronavirus. Updates on the spread of COVID-19 continue to take over headlines world-wide, resulting in a dramatic increase in public anxiety. And, as governments across the globe take steps to curb the escalating number of infections, people are working from home and schools are closing.
“Fear and uncertainty are the hallmark response to things that people don’t understand and that they feel threatens their safety and the safety of their loved ones,” Joshua Morganstein, Chair of the American Psychiatric Association’s Committee on Psychiatric Dimensions of Disasters says.
Yet, despite the frightening statistics, it is as important for us to look after our mental wellbeing as it is to look after our physical health. As such, we at Mind and Body Counseling Associates, Reno, Nevada, have collated nine ways to maintain a sense of control amidst the Coronavirus pandemic:
#1 Seek Credible Sources of Information
First and foremost, avoid getting your updates on the status of the COVID-19 from Facebook. Instead, only gain your information from official websites such as the World Health Organisation (WHO). This is pertinent to avoid the further anxiety that misinformation can cause.
#2 Limit Your Media Exposure
If ever there was a time to take a break from social media and the like, it would be now. You may have noticed that your feeds are FULL of news about the Coronavirus. Exposing yourself to this all day can only intensify your fears. Instead, limit yourself to only viewing social media / reading the news once or twice a day. This will allow you to continue to live your life and focus on the things you are able to control.
#3 Take Care of Yourself
As mentioned above, looking after yourself amidst the COVID-19 outbreak involves focusing on the things you do have control of. Like, for example, maintaining good hygiene by washing your hands more often. Be sure to continue to eat healthy, exercise, and get enough sleep. Engage in activities like taking walks, or practicing meditation and/or mindfulness exercises to help you stay focused on the present instead of worrying about an uncertain future.
#4 Maintain a Routine
While certain elements of your schedule may be forced to change, try to establish a new routine as soon as possible. This will help to bring a sense of calm amidst a lot of change. For example, if you are now working from home, be sure to schedule in enough breaks for mealtimes and sleep.
#5 Remain Involved in Community
It is important to remain in contact with your friends and family during this time, even if you aren’t able to physically see them. Talk with each other about your concerns, but be sure to continue to engage in other topics of conversation as well. Do what you can to help those around you, particularly those in a vulnerable position.
“When we’re supporting others it gives us a sense of purpose,” Morganstein says.
#6 Think Positive
One only has to do a bit of searching on the web to find videos of communities in Italy and Spain, who have been told to remain at home, making the most of a bad situation. Instead of only researching the horrors associated with COVID-19, take the opportunity to research all of the positive stories of people who have contracted the virus and survived. For a constant stream of good news around the world, follow @goodnews_movement on Instagram.
#7 Acknowledge Your Feelings
As much as we are advising you to remain calm and positive, it is also normal to feel overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, or upset given the circumstances. Take some time to process your feelings and express them so that you are able to make sense of them and then address them accordingly. This could be through journaling, talking to someone you trust, being creative, or engaging in meditation.
#8 Talk to Your Children
Once you’ve managed to iron out and cope with your own feelings about the COVID-19 outbreak, be sure to address the fears of your children. Answer their questions and share the facts surrounding the Coronavirus, without tapping into any of the associated hysteria. Most importantly, reassure your children that they are safe, but that their worries are understood and heard.
#9 Reach Out to a Professional
If you have attempted all of the above and are still unable to deal with your own anxiety surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak, be sure to get in touch with us here. Because mental health is an essential medical service for the community, MBCA will remain open during this crisis and continue to provide services to clients both in person or via telehealth HIPPA approved platforms. We will put you in contact with a professional counsellor who will be able to help you work through all that you are feeling.