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Pandemic Panic: How To Cope With Coronavirus Anxiety

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With the coronavirus pandemic at large, many of us are having to manage the situation as best as we can. As we self-isolate at home, many of us are concerned about our safety, the safety of others, as well as how to cope with coronavirus anxiety — which many people are experiencing right now.

 

The good news is that you’re not alone. People across the world are experiencing similar emotions, which may involve a mix of fear, anxiety, depression, stress, fatigue, and others. Thankfully, there are solutions to help those coping with coronavirus anxiety. These tips should help!

 

 

Outbreaks Can Be Stressful For Everyone

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), outbreaks are very stressful events on their own. The fear and anxiety about potentially contracting the disease or worrying that your loved ones will contract it, is something that weighs heavy on us.

 

This stress can impact your emotions, your sleep, your work ethic, and your overall well-being. Stress like this from an outbreak can impact a person’s immune system, and has the potential to worsen medical conditions that may already exist. It can also drive people to engage in risky behaviors, such as substance use. But being aware of this can help you recognize that your feelings of stress during this time are completely normal.

 

 

Everyone Reacts Differently

Although it’s common for most of us to experience anxiety during this time, it’s also important to realize that some people will react differently than others.

 

You may feel socially isolated, guilt, concern, and increased levels of distress. Those who may be more stressed or anxious right now are people who have a higher risk of getting sick (elderly individuals, those who are immuno-compromised), children, or adults who suffer from mental health conditions. Again, you don’t have to fall into any of these categories to be reacting in a way that may feel excessive.

 

 

Know The Facts: Stay Informed To Help Reduce Anxiety

One of the best methods of coping with coronavirus anxiety is to know the facts and stay as informed as you can. This means reading information on science-backed websites like the CDC or your state government website, to get the most accurate unbiased information regarding the virus.

 

That said, do your best to stay off the news and social media as much as possible, as there’s often a lot of misinformation out there that can worsen your anxiety.

 

 

Anxious young girl staring out the window
Image by Med Ahabchane from Pixabay

 

 

Practice Strategies For Coping With Coronavirus Anxiety

No matter how well read up you are on the pandemic, how many precautions you’re taking, and how aware you are of your own anxiety, that doesn’t always make it go away. This is why it’s important to practice strategies for coping with coronavirus anxiety, so you can keep yourself as calm (and healthy!) as possible. The bright side is that these strategies will help if you become stressed in the future.

 

 

1. Understand Your Anxiety

 

The first step in coping with coronavirus anxiety is to understand your anxiety, where it’s coming from, and how it’s impacting your life on a regular basis. For most of us, it’s the uncertainty of the situation which is contributing to our anxiety more than anything else.

 

Nevertheless, this can make us spiral out of control with panic. So, a good way to understand your anxiety is by asking yourself a series of questions:

  • What typically happens to your body when worries take over?
  • What typically happens to your thoughts when fears take over?
  • How worried are you on a scale from 1 to 10?
  • What do you fear the most?
  • Why do you have these fears and worries?
  • Do you normally experience anxiety when others seem to be more relaxed?
  • What usually helps you handle worries?

Knowing that feeling anxious is completely normal but also your anxiety may be taking a bigger toll on other aspects of your health, should be addressed. By checking in with ourselves and understanding where our anxiety comes from, we can stay level-headed and keep some calm in the chaos.

 

 

2. Try Doing These Things More

 

So, how do you combat anxiety? Even if you understand where it’s coming from, those pains in your chest (which you may worry are from coronavirus but could actually just be from anxiety) are not fun. Anxiety can impact our physical bodies a lot. In some people, it’s the heart racing a million miles a minute. In others, it’s sweats at night, or hyperventilating.

 

The good news is, there are many things you can do to alleviate some of your anxiety:

  • Stay informed by reading trustworthy and credible sources.
  • Step away from the media when feeling overwhelmed.
  • Ask someone reliable for updates, for instance, a friend who has less anxiety than you or someone you know who works in a hospital.
  • Tell yourself things that are certain.
  • Connect with friends and loved ones regularly, as it provides a good distraction and can help you feel better.
  • Do activities that bring you joy, like reading a good book or making art
  • Exercise
  • Get some much-needed sunshine and fresh air when possible

 

3. Try Doing These Things Less

 

One of the symptoms of anxiety is doing repetitive behaviors that we know aren’t making us feel better. So, there are some things we need to be doing less of in order to help curb our anxiety:

  • Checking the news
  • Sharing too much information or reading into what others are posting
  • Being on social media
  • Trying to control other peoples’ habits
  • Obsessively cleaning/taking precautionary measures further than suggested by the CDC and/or state governments

 

4. Focus On Things You Can Control

 

Doing more of some things and less than others is a good starting point for coping with coronavirus anxiety, but it doesn’t help us know what we should be spending our time on. In these situations, when everything feels so out of control, it’s important to focus on what we can control:

  • Staying at home
  • Eating healthy
  • Practicing good self-hygiene
  • Washing your hands
  • Following CDC guidelines
  • Thinking about what you’re grateful for
  • Connecting with others
  • Finding ways to keep yourself busy

It’s understandable that this may be difficult. Sometimes, anxiety prevents us from doing the basic things that would help us feel less anxious. So, all you can do is try your best.

 

 

Person washing their hands in a stone sink
Image by Couleur from Pixabay

 

 

Take Practical Steps To Lessen Risk Of Catching Coronavirus

If one of your biggest fears is catching coronavirus, that’s completely valid. We don’t know everything about this virus yet, and we may not learn more until it’s over. But we do know enough about it to help limit our risk of catching the virus and spreading it to others. By taking practical steps to lessen our risk of catching it, it can help reduce anxiety, too.

  • Follow CDC and your state government guidelines
  • Avoid unnecessary travel and crowds
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water (or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer) for 20 seconds
  • Keep your hands away from your face, especially your eyes, mouth, and nose
  • Wear a mask when going out and dispose of it properly.
  • Practice safe social distancing measures. If you do go out, stay at least 6 feet away from others

 

Relaxation Tips For Coping With Coronavirus Anxiety

Sometimes, the best method for coping with coronavirus anxiety (or, any anxiety for that matter) is to relax. Relaxing, of course, is a lot easier than it sounds if you’re anxious. But, by doing even one of these each day, you can help yourself feel more calm:

  • Yoga and meditation with controlled breathing
  • Talk to friends and family, especially through video chat
  • Get help from an online therapist or telehealth professional
  • Do not let the “what-ifs” spiral out of control
  • Be kind to yourself
  • Maintain a routine as much as possible
  • Make a self-care checklist
  • Take time out for activities you enjoy
  • Try to experience nature
  • Find ways to exercise, even if it’s taking the dog for a walk or doing some light stretches
  • Avoid self-medicating and talk to a doctor if you have any major health concerns
  • See if you can volunteer somewhere or help others to get your mind off the anxiety
  • Watch a movie that makes you laugh. Laughter is the best medicine!

 

Do Some Fun At-Home Activities To Cope With Coronavirus Anxiety

Depending on whether or not you’re feeling up to it, doing some fun at-home activities to aid in coping with coronavirus anxiety is a great solution.

  • Do a virtual tour or experience
  • Watch wild animals as many zoos have nature cameras setup
  • Take an online course or class. UoPeople is a tuition-free, US accredited university that’s entirely online
  • Read or listen to audiobooks
  • Listen to podcasts
  • Listen to music
  • Write
  • Draw
  • Go through old photos, make a photo album, or a scrapbook
  • Knit or sew
  • Walk your dog
  • Do arts and crafts

 

Help Others When You Can

Another way to help manage coronavirus anxiety is to reach out and help others when you can. This may be difficult if you’re struggling to work on yourself, but helping others can actually lead you to feel better.

  • Follow guidelines for preventing the spread of the virus
  • Reach out to others in need
  • Check on your neighbors, especially elderly neighbors
  • Offer to walk dogs for essential employees, as long as you are following precautions
  • Donate to food banks
  • See if you can donate blood
  • Offer to interpret for people if you speak a second language
  • Be a calming influence
  • Smile and wave to your neighbors

 

Plan For What You Can

Unfortunately, we do not know for sure when life will turn back to normal. And, since many places around the world are handling the virus how they see fit, we may see changes happening in some countries or cities sooner than others, which can cause even more anxiety. So, all you can do now is plan for what you can, which may mean just planning what you’re going to eat for dinner tomorrow night, what book you will read next, or thinking on a broader scale of what you plan to do once this is over, even if it’s months down the road.

 

Since you’re staying home, anyway, now may be a great opportunity to earn your degree, which will certainly keep you distracted from coronavirus anxiety. UoPeople is a tuition-free, US accredited online school where you can take courses entirely from home and in your own time.