What a strange time it is. The Coronavirus, COVID-19, the proper name given to the disease by science, is now considered a global pandemic. The stores are out of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and soap. Theaters have shuttered their doors and public events are cancelled. Governments around the world have even limited our ability to travel. Such calamity has slowly and steadily increased our own anxieties and fears of what is to come (or not come). This increased stress for a prolonged period that many of us are experiencing can wreak havoc on our bodies, minds, relationships and even our immune systems. So how do we maintain our mental health in times of panic like we are facing today?
Focus on Facts, Not Feelings
In this new stressful atmosphere filled with uncertainty, people may experience everything from nervousness to full-on panic when somebody coughs or sneezes in their vicinity. Anxiety comes from the unknown, so make sure you get all the facts before you jump to any catastrophic conclusions. The Coronavirus is an extremely treatable, flu-like virus and is not connected with any specific race or ethnicity. Although we don’t currently have a vaccine, most healthy people who contract the illness will fully recover. People with compromised immune systems, and especially the elderly, have more cause for concern. Although this may be worrisome, simple acts like washing your hands will help lower your ability to contract and/or spread the disease exponentially. The FACT is, just because we FEEL like we are all in danger does not mean we are actually in danger.
Practice Self Care Activities
Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Habitually, get a good night’s sleep, eat a well balanced diet, get regular exercise, and focus on stress-reducing activities. Keep your entertainment choices on the lighter side. For example, maybe watch more comedies and avoid the moody, realistic dramas. Listen to some upbeat, happy music instead of sad, emotional or angry songs. Learn about other self care strategies from our earlier blogs.
Limit Media Coverage
Watch yourself and what you’re watching: If you catch yourself constantly devouring the extensive news coverage of the spread and quarantine of the virus, simply turn off the TV or change the station. In our current situation watching the news constantly will only increase our anxiety and limit our opportunities to find some peace during this difficult time. Remain committed to learning the facts from true, reliable sources, like the CDC. Once you know the latest, watching commentary and “what if ” discussions will only cause increased stress, anxiety, agitation and fear.
Acknowledge Your Worries
It’s generally impractical to tell an anxious person to just stop feeling anxious. It may first be necessary to acknowledge the anxiety and begin to work through it. There are many techniques you can learn when it comes to working through anxiety. Psychologist and meditation teacher, Tara Brach, writes about R.A.I.N. to help deal with difficult situations.
Our goal at Long Island Teletherapy is always to support the community through any difficult transitions in their lives. In order to be most helpful during this pandemic, we have created this website for our clients, so we can conduct telephone and/or video sessions, depending on your comfortability.
Remember to stay vigilant, stay at home as much as you can and wash your hands often. Check on your elderly neighbors and family members. Stay connected! This public health scare will pass like all others before it. Until then, please be gentle with yourselves and good to each other.