The coronavirus outbreak is not one that the world has seen before, and it is unsettling for people around the globe. You may feel anxious as the media releases reports of newly confirmed cases, some of which been fatal, and a growing list of facts about the disease come to light. Understanding this anxiety and how to manage it can help you through this unique situation called the COVID-19 pandemic.
Anxiety Sets in Coronavirus
While the coronavirus is impacting the physical health of individuals worldwide, it is also affecting the psychological health of a significant amount of the population. The crisis is one that will bring stress, depression, and anxiety to many lives.
Anxiety refers to the uncertainty of a threat that little or no information is known about. In this case, the threat is the coronavirus.
The anxious feelings arise in response to thoughts about what the future will hold for you and your loved ones. Will one of you get sick? If so, what will that mean? The possibility of danger, and not knowing when it would come, can be intense, depending on how sure you or someone else feels that it is to occur.
Symptoms of Anxiety
Common physical traits that characterize anxiety include insomnia, being less hungry than usual, headaches, tense shoulders and neck, and tiredness. Psychological signs of anxiousness include a feeling of helplessness, constant worrying about the coronavirus, sadness, anger, and an overall negative view of the future.
As well, you may find it hard to focus and notice that you cry more often than normal. Some people may resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as alcohol or drugs.
How to Manage Your Anxiety about the Coronavirus
Given that uncertainty is such a big part of defining anxiety, a key part of managing it is staying informed about the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it is easy to get consumed by the news, consuming updates online and on TV.
Thus, it is important to put limitations on this activity to avoid it becoming an obsession. Rather than watching video clips every hour, for example, limit the viewing to once a day for a set time to get updates.
Also, if you feel anxiety rising while checking the news, stop immediately. Feeling overwhelmed will not help the situation. Instead, practice deep breathing or another relaxation technique that helps you to regain balance between mind and body.
Take back the feeling of personal control too by following health officials’ recommendations for lowering the risk of the coronavirus. For example, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds to wash away germs. Avoid touching your face, too, as a measure to help protect yourself from the coronavirus.
The COVID-19 pandemic is uncharted territory, but rather than only seeing what’s still unknown, a better strategy for your mental health is to focus on what you can control. Be conscious of your emotions and what triggers sadness, anger, and worry; then, evaluate how to best respond to these triggers, such as turning off the news, doing yoga, or listening to calming music.
Finally, reach out to others when you feel overwhelmed, whether it’s for help doing chores around the house or an ear to listen to how you’re feeling. If the anxiety continues to increase over time and is no longer manageable, seeking the help of a professional is likely the best next step.