Coping with Anxiety Over the Coronavirus

Early this week I got outside for a short walk at Volunteer Park in Seattle.  I was early enough that a thick fog had not yet lifted and I spotted this mallard pair resting in the dewey grass. You could barely see the massive big trees in the park. Even though it was chilly and foggy, it certainly lifted my spirits!

Feelings of fear and anxiety are normal during a pandemic. Being proactive about your mental health can help to keep both your mind and body stronger.  Some ways to take care of yourself include:

  • Reading the news from reliable sources (and take breaks from the news)
  • Recognizing the things you can control, like having good hygiene
  • Practicing self-care and seeking professional help if necessary

Ways to Manage Stress

The way you cope with stress can ensure that you’re taking helpful action in managing your mental health. Here are ways to help you ease anxiety surrounding coronavirus.

Read news from trustworthy sources.

There are always some steps you can take to decrease risk, such as washing your hands well and limiting travel.  Recognizing these can remind you to focus on things you have control over. Just make sure the steps you’re taking are actions recommended by reputable sources.
Limit your media consumption to a certain time frame or a certain number of articles.While it’s helpful to stay informed, it’s also important you don’t allow yourself to be bombarded with anxiety-provoking news all day.

Avoid the herd mentality.

Be aware that many people take action that doesn’t help.

Eating a balanced diet, getting plenty of sleep, and engaging in leisure activities are always key to helping you stay as physically and psychologically healthy as possible during stressful times. Good self-care also keeps your immune system robust.

Seek professional help.

If your mental health is being impacted by the stress of the coronavirus, then you may want to seek professional help. In addition to mental health concerns that may arise as a result of anxiety surrounding a pandemic, it’s important to monitor existing mental health conditions to ensure they don’t worsen.

Depression and Anxiety

Researchers have found that some individuals may experience mental health problems for the first time during a pandemic. Adjustment issues, depression, and anxiety may arise.

Additionally, some existing mental health conditions may get worse. Research suggests that individuals who are especially vulnerable to stress and anxiety may be at the highest risk.

Children often adopt the coping strategies they observe in their parents. Parents who grow anxious during a pandemic may end up witnessing their children develop anxiety right along with them.

Rumination or Isolation

Personal reactions to increased fears may differ. But many individuals experience increased rumination about the possibility of getting sick. They may also greatly modify their behavior when doing so isn’t warranted (e.g., isolating themselves or preparing for catastrophic outcomes).

How Do I React?

But the vaccination rate for the flu in the United States is usually less than 50%—most people just aren’t afraid of it. The reverse is also true; what we know less about is more likely to make us nervous.
You’re more likely to develop serious anxiety surrounding what you’re less familiar with. This is one of the reasons why pandemics of the past, like Ebola virus and Zika virus, created a spike in anxiety for most individuals.

Being bombarded with news that constantly talks about death tolls, and reports that emphasize how many are sick, can cause people to overestimate the risks they face in contracting the illness. However, reliable sources of media can also have positive effects during a pandemic.

Media’s Influence

The media can fuel anxiety by continuously reporting on the “spread” of an illness like the coronavirus. However, when used appropriately, the media can also be an ally in disseminating useful information.

Positive vs. Negative Use of Media

Researchers analysis on the use of media following the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, discovered that news reports can reduce panic in the public by recommending concrete, detailed actions for people to take. This approach may prevent individuals from overreacting or taking drastic measures when a new threat emerges.

Managing your anxiety as you learn more about the outbreak, or discovering how to protect yourself, can be difficult. Getting proactive about your psychological well-being can help manage your mental health during these times of uncertainty.
(a summary from VeryWellmind)

One thought on “Coping with Anxiety Over the Coronavirus

  1. Very good article, Jan. We need cooler heads and voices to lead the people instead of those who foment more “excitement”.

    On Fri, Mar 13, 2020 at 9:29 AM Well Healthy Ways wrote:

    > Jan Yalowitz posted: ” Early this week I got outside for a short walk at > Volunteer Park in Seattle. I was early enough that a thick fog had not yet > lifted and I spotted this mallard pair resting in the dewey grass. You > could barely see the massive big trees in the park. Ev” >

    Liked by 1 person

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