Updated: Apr 23, 2020
The Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak across the globe has undoubtedly stoked fears and panic regarding our health and safety in the midst of a rapidly spreading virus. To date, the World Health Organization has reported approximately 114,000 confirmed cases globally, affecting 110 countries, areas or territories.
Our reaction to daily updates regarding the #Coronavirus illustrates the nature of anxiety in general:
- it is likely to increase when we perceive our fears are being realized, and
- it is likely to increase in the midst of uncertainty.
Scientists and medical practitioners are still trying to learn more about the virus in order to combat it effectively. However, although there are many unanswered questions about the virus itself, there are effective and practical measures that can be adopted to protect yourself and others from contracting the virus. We can manage our anxiety as we learn more about the virus by adopting these three (3) general tips for coping with anxiety.
Check the Facts
Anxiety escalates when our thoughts distort or exaggerate the reality of the situation. We may feel as if our worst fears are being realized, but will notice that the intensity of our anxiety and fears decline the more we equip ourselves with the facts. There are a lot of myths and misinformation being circulated across social media and text groups. These are not helpful in taking effective measures to protect your physical and mental health. Refer to trustworthy and legitimate sources such as the World Health Organization, The Public Health Agency of Canada, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or your local health department for facts and updates.
Manage Your Exposure to Triggers
Being glued to social media and cable news punditry & speculation is a surefire way of elevating your emotions in the middle of uncertainty. Effectively manage your exposure to anything that may stoke irrational fears about your health and safety by not only checking the facts, but by setting boundaries regarding what, when, where, and how much information you take in at any given time. You may do this by recognizing when you are becoming overwhelmed, and being intentional about how much TV news, WhatsApp messages, and news alerts you access. Yes, being informed is key, but you may not want to read every single broadcast message from your conspiracy theorist cousin (twice removed) about the latest updates and opinions regarding the virus.
Make a Plan
Planning ahead and putting your plan into effect can greatly reduce your anxiety as it helps to remove the element of uncertainty that provokes one's fears. Once you are equipped with reliable information, use this information to your advantage by preparing and protecting yourself effectively. The organizations listed above have a lot of information of things you can do to mitigate against getting the virus. They also have information regarding travel, employer and employee rights and responsibilities, and navigating public spaces. You can also check with entities you regularly engage with (eg. your employer, public transit, your children's schools) to find out their plans and strategies in managing the outbreak so that you can plan effectively for yourself and your family.
If you are experiencing chronic anxiety, or have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder or obsessive compulsive behaviours, be sure to seek the support of a medical or mental health professional if you find you are more distressed than usual, or having difficulties managing your anxiety in response to the outbreak.
If you would like to discuss your therapeutic needs, and would like to explore the possibility of starting therapy, feel free to contact me by calling 416-688-5274, or by booking a free initial consult at heartspringtherapy.ca/book-online.