How to Manage Anxiety During COVID-19
Many people are feeling anxious about the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) because not much is known about the virus, and there is currently no treatment or vaccine. COVID-19 can also be a trigger for people who have health anxiety. Signs that you may have severe anxiety include:
- Changes in sleeping patterns
- Intrusive thoughts about COVID-19 for most of the day
- Inability to concentrate on other tasks because of COVID-19 thoughts
If you find that your anxiety about COVID-19 is interfering with your daily life, here are some ways to manage your fears. Many of these tips are important for all of us to practice, even if you aren’t concerned about your mental health.
Get Factual Information from Credible Sources
One major source of anxiety over COVID-19 is uncertainty. Some websites and news sources may spread inaccurate information about the virus or speculate about what could happen in the future. It’s important to stick to reputable sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and your local news stations.
Create a New Routine
Many people’s lives have been disrupted by the novel coronavirus. Adults may be working at home, have reduced hours, or may not be able to work at all. Children are home from school indefinitely. The disruption to your normal routine adds to the stress of the outbreak.
To help maintain a sense of order, create a new daily routine. This should include consistently eating, sleeping, and waking up at the same times each day. Start and end your day at the same time as if you were going to work or school. When the work or school day is over, try to create separate areas for work and leisure.
Your routine should also include time for exercise, whether it’s at home or on a walk (while still practicing social distancing). Staying healthy is one of the most important things you can do right now.
Follow All Guidelines from the Government and Health Officials
A lot of people have been taking panicked actions in response to the outbreak, such as stockpiling food and paper products. Rather than acting out of fear, follow guidelines from trusted sources and make a plan to prepare for coronavirus.
The CDC recommends having an emergency two-week supply of food, prescription medications, and other supplies. The agency is also instructing people to wear a cloth face covering in public. However, surgical masks and N95 respirators should be reserved for healthcare workers only. You can learn more about how to protect yourself from coronavirus on the CDC website.
Refilling your prescriptions or obtaining an emergency supply? Find discounts at nearby pharmacies.
Use Technology as a Substitute for In-Person Communication
While you may not be able to connect with friends and loved ones in-person, technology makes it easy to keep in touch. Video chat is a close substitute for physical contact since you are able to see and hear each other. Even if you aren’t able to video chat, you can still call, email, or text to stay connected.
Keep Yourself Occupied
Sitting in isolation and dwelling on your thoughts only makes anxiety about COVID-19 worse. While you may not be able to go outside and socialize, there are still plenty of activities that can keep you occupied. Watch a TV show or movie, do an at-home workout, practice a favorite hobby, or learn a new skill. If you have family at home with you, make time for activities together.
Practice Calming Techniques
If you feel your anxiety is becoming unmanageable, there are many techniques you can use to calm yourself down in the moment:
- Practice deep breathing.
- Challenge irrational thoughts. Ask yourself how likely it is that your fears will happen and remind yourself of the facts.
- Listen to soothing music.
- Use progressive muscle relaxation to ease tense muscles.
- Take a walk outside and enjoy the fresh air.
See a Counselor Online
If you’re having trouble managing your anxiety on your own, seeing a counselor can be beneficial. Many mental health providers are offering telehealth sessions during the coronavirus outbreak. This allows you to get the help you need while still practicing social distancing.
While it’s normal to experience anxiety about coronavirus (COVID-19), you shouldn’t let it interfere with your ability to function. Remember to follow all guidelines from the government to prevent the spread and stay safe. And if you do get sick, contact your doctor for advice. They may ask you to stay at home if symptoms can be managed on your own.