We often fear that which we cannot understand. After all, what could be more frightening than an unseen adversary terrorizing the globe? The Sars-CoV-2 pandemic, colloquially dubbed “the coronavirus,” has induced fear and panic across the world within a matter of months.
Social distancing measures, school and business closures, economic hardship, and a constant plug on media coverage of the virus can all provoke unease. So, how can we prevent both short-term anxiety and long-term harm to health?
Minimize your exposure to bad news.
Understanding the virus and disease is crucial to understanding why the world is on lockdown. However, too much anxiety can cause panic or hoarding whereas not enough knowledge regarding this disease can lead to people ignoring social distance measures. Look for the proper amount of apprehension as a motivator.
Citizens should remain informed but refrain from constant news coverage. Healthcare professionals recommend getting quality information from sites such as the Center for Disease Control or the World Health Organization, as well as local and national health platforms. Avoid obtaining information from social media platforms, as they incite alarm.
Be proactive, not panicked.
Understand your risk for the virus by knowing your medical history. Follow the proper preventative methods for protecting against acquiring viruses. Social distancing calls for avoiding public places and contact. If you must step out for essential items such as groceries and prescription medications, avoid standing closer than six feet to other people. Utilize home delivery methods and properly sterilize your packages and mail.
If you go out to get some exercise, maintain long distances from other people and avoid touching surfaces and then touching your face. If your state or country recommends the use of masks, wear them. However, do not hoard supplies that can be used by others or by healthcare professionals.
Always remember the ‘golden rule’ of infectious disease prevention is to wash your hands regularly and wash them well.
Refashion your perspective.
If your parents, children, or partners are home from work and school, spend time together. Consider doing activities that often got put on the backburner before. If you are blessed enough to be “isolated” with family or friends, use this unique time to get to know them better.
If you have religious or community-based inclinations, several religious services are providing online services, counseling, and support. Reach out to your local community leaders.
Feel free to take some time to regroup. If you find yourself needing some space from the people you are isolated with, take it. Leave the room, take a walk with the appropriate measures, or meditate. To those who have young children, finding alone time may be difficult unless parents consider temporarily relaxing previous screen-time or outdoor play measures.
Get to know your inner circle.
In the age of social media, the world is interconnected by the tips of our fingers. Our list of acquaintances and followers makes for a vast social circle. However, in times of social distancing, focus on the most important of those.
Think about the most intimate of your social network – most adults tend to have just a few other adults who they are close with. Once you have established who those people are, deliberately increase your contact with them through phone calls, video-conferencing, or social media groups. By reconnecting with the most intimate of your group, you may even improve your relationships in the long run.
Set up a daily routine.
Many might feel like the days are running together, so to combat that feeling – be aware of your time. Develop a structure to your day. If you are working from home, set up work hours and tasks like you have outside of your home. If you are not working from home and suddenly find yourself idle, pick up new tasks or projects.
Setting up a schedule ensures some level of reliance on your day. Aim to incorporate seven to eight hours of sleep, regular meals, relaxation time, and time for physical activities.
Be mindful of yourself and those around you.
A minute of mindful reflection can change your entire day. Take a moment to step aside in complete silence and practice gratitude for all that you have in each day. Close your eyes, take ten deep breaths, and just experience the environment. These measures may help ground you.
As inconvenient as it is being cooped up, at least we are safe. All around the world, there are people in dire need. If you feel helpless and want to contribute to – find a charitable organization supporting vulnerable populations across the world or online measures to donate or help. Consider donating to local food banks and others in need.
These are just a few ideas for how to stay afloat in unsure waters. However, if you find yourself unable to cope with the anxiety, find yourself avoiding all outside contact for fear of the virus, or notice symptoms of a panic attack such as increased heart rate, profuse sweating, or an impending sense of doom – contact your healthcare provider.