Are you feeling Coronavirus anxiety? The stress, unpredictability, and fear that comes with COVID-19 can take an emotional toll on anyone, but particularly those suffering chronic stress and anxiety. As we watch this pandemic unfold, how can you manage your stress and avoid mental isolation?
As the Coronavirus pandemic sweeps the globe, a rapidly growing sense of emotional turmoil has followed in its footsteps. With the seemingly endless reporting on negative news as it relates to the virus, it’s difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The rapid increase confusion around test results, the declaration that the United States is the new epicenter of the virus, and the rising death toll leave little room to cope and a lot of room for concern.
As such, a growing sense of anxiety has been triggered across the globe, particularly due to the elevated media attention. However, the pandemic has been especially challenging for those with pre-existing anxiety symptoms – especially those who feel their progress has been interrupted.
While it’s too early to know the extent of the damage, so to speak, it should come as no surprise that the adverse effects on work, finances, schooling, parenting, and healthcare have impacted us at varying degrees. How will I find childcare? How do I pay my bills? What if I get laid off? What if someone in my family becomes sick?
If you are experiencing anxiety during this ongoing crisis, you may have found that the uncertainty surrounding it all is the most difficult aspect to handle.
How To Manage Your Mental Health During Self-Isolation
While a lot of what is happening is entirely out of our control, as we will later discuss, there are many things you can do to avoid the dread, panic attacks, and fears associated with coronavirus and your anxiety.
Take Care of Your Mind & Body
During this stressful time, the first and most important thing you can do is to adopt your typical mind and body exercises and strategies to cope.
Because most of us are self-isolating at home, our routine has been thrown off-kilter, which can make it challenging to remain focused and keep our minds off the problem. Do your best to maintain your routine; wake up and prepare for work when you usually would, structure your work tasks as close to normal as you can, eat balanced meals, and go to bed at a reasonable hour.
Remain as active as you can despite the new restrictions. Your gym might be closed, but there are several ways you can give your body the attention it needs. Get out in nature if your community allows, exercise at home using the resources at your disposal, stretch your legs if you sit at a desk all day, and practice yoga and meditation.
You may also consider practicing breathing exercises when the situation begins to overwhelm you. Regulated breathing, a practice borrowed from ancient Eastern traditions, has been used to quiet the mind and fight stress for centuries. It has shown to lower blood pressure, regulate your heart rate, improve digestion, reduce cortisol levels, and ease anxiety. Conscious breathing patterns also remedy fight-or-flight mode, healing chronic stress, and many different types of trauma. Inhale, exhale, and repeat until you find your heart rate slowing and your breath coming easier.
Concentrate on What You Can Control
The thing is, this is happening – whether we like it or not. We can’t control what other people do during this time of crisis, we can’t dictate how long this will last, and we certainly have no say in who gets infected and who does not. And that’s scary, particularly for those who find peace in control. However, while we can’t control the situation as a whole, we cando our part to minimize the damage.
When that lack of control begins to consume you, and your mind starts focusing on all the things that could go wrong, center your attention around the things you can manage. This includes:
- Staying home when necessary (including non-essential travel)
- Keeping 6 feet between yourself and others
- Using hand sanitizer and/or washing your hands for at least 20 seconds regularly
- Avoiding gatherings of 10 people or more; no playdates, meet-ups, sleepovers, etc.
- Taking care of your own health; get plenty of sleep, take care of your immune system, and treat any and all presumed symptoms
As schools close, offices, and entertainment venues shut down, and life as we know it changes, focusing on what is within your power can help relieve your anxiety.
Listen to The Coronavirus Facts
One of the quickest ways to be engulfed in overwhelm is to hop on social media and cling to each and every bit of “news” that crosses your feed. While it’s crucial to stay informed, there is a lot of misinformation and stressors being spread across the internet. From inaccurate statistics and false reporting to sensationalism and a direct disregard to what our health authorities recommend – media outlets and our friends on social media are feeding the frenzy rather than calming it.
Avoid the noise. Listen to your Governor to learn about the status of COVID-19 in your area and how it affects you. Follow trustworthy sources such as the World Health Organization and the CDC. Don’t watch the news obsessively. Monitor the news just once a day, rather than listening to your channel of choice on repeat and constantly scrolling through your social media feeds. Recognize when it begins to feel like too much – when that anxiety and overwhelm start creeping in – and take a step back.
Don’t Mentally Self-Isolate – Stay Connected
It’s important that you make sure social distancing and self-isolation don’t hurt your mental health. You may be ordered to self-isolate, but that doesn’t mean you need to cut yourself off from the outside world completely. Isolation can worsen feelings of depression and anxiety, so those with pre-existing disorders are at greater risk of poor mental health during this trying time.
Don’t let yourself or the ones you care about retreat into reclusiveness. Instead, reach out to friends and loved ones to catch up over the phone, use video chatting tools like FaceTime and Skype to see each other’s faces, engage with friends on social media, and do your best to keep coronavirus out of the conversation. Find laughter, enjoy each other’s virtual company, and engage in the way you would if this pandemic was not taking place.
If you are feeling misunderstood by your loved ones, or if you simply feel that speaking to a mental health specialist will ease some of your angst, consider enlisting the help of a virtual therapist. These tools allow you to seek therapy while practicing self-isolation as recommended by the government.
The coronavirus pandemic has proven to be an exceptionally trying time for citizens across the globe. While mental health and the human mind are not direct targets of the virus, they certainly experience collateral damage as the crisis ensues. Take care of yourself – mind and body!