Do you remember what it was like waiting for your university or college acceptance letter in the mail? How you checked your parent’s mailbox every morning for that thick envelop with leaflets and school brochures showing photos of what the next chapter in your life was going to look like – almost obsessively… Well, now try swapping that mailbox for a TV that is dialed into Justin Trudeau’s daily COVID-19 update and into every other syndicated news flash and op ed piece covering the health crisis. Your new go-to thing to do (since you cannot go outside right now) is plugging into the news. Perhaps it comes as little surprise that you are not alone. Many of the clients that we speak to are becoming increasingly more obsessive as well as anxious about the state we are in with this health crisis.
Uncertainty seems to be becoming the new normal. We are worried about our own health as well as the health of our loved ones, the economy, our overburdened hospitals and so much more. When will this end? What will the new normal look like? Have I already contracted COVID-19? What if’s are running rampant. What if I get laid off? What if I can’t afford to make payments? What if I get terminally sick? What if my loved ones get sick? … We understand what you are going through and have decided to share a few suggestions that we have been giving our clients to help them cope with some of these anxieties. Read our 6 tips to help you cope with your coronavirus anxiety.
1. It is normal to feel anxious about Coronavirus
It is normal to be experiencing anxiety right now. Polls are showing that there is a huge increase in anxiety worldwide due to the pandemic. It is important to know that it is 100% okay to be anxious about coronavirus! Anxiety is how our body keeps us safe. Anxiety is an alarm in our body that goes off when there is a threat or danger and it occurs so that we do something about it and get ourselves to safety. Your body is so very normal and just doing what it is supposed to do. But stress is not good for immunity, so it is important to learn ways to cope and manage it. Here are a few specific steps to help decrease anxiety.
2. Limit Media Exposure:
One very simple and easy step to reduce anxiety is to limit your exposure to the news. Do not read every article that you see online and watch the news once or twice a day. Put boundaries and limits on yourself so you get a break from thinking about the current health crisis and, consequently, feeling anxious all the time. Social media is a trigger that fuels anxiety so give your brain and body a break by thinking and focusing on things that distract you from your anxiety. Or, maybe focus on things that are funny or make you feel relaxed.
Tip: We need to do more types of these activities right now to counterbalance the stressful situation we are in all in.
3. What’s in your control Versus what is not in your control:
“What we find at Psych Company, in our dealings with 100’s of clients, is that it’s usually helpful to break things down to smaller bite size pieces especially when anxiety and stress levels are running high.”
Usually the first order of business when breaking things down effectively is to first separate what’s in your control from what is not.
For example, it is not in your control to change the government’s initial response to COVID-19. Fixating on how the public officials did or did not handle it isn’t going to help you feel better. It will only get you worked up and angry and looking for someone to blame. Shift this to what’s with in your power to control. It is, for example, within your control to pick up knowledge about world affairs as you listen along to the news flashes and documentaries about the Coronavirus. As well, there are many actions in your control right now that you can take to stay safe. Think about what you can do to protect yourself and stay as safe as possible. Maybe learning how to wash your hands the proper way would be beneficial (do you normally wash between each finger – I know I didn’t keep track if whether I did or didn’t prior to COVID-19, but I do now!). It is in your control to self-isolate and if you can’t self-isolate, take all measures to ensure that you are protecting yourself the best you can. It is also in your control to turn off your news updates so you aren’t being bombarded constantly with the thoughts and feelings associated with reading news headlines. It may not be in your control when you see clusters of people walking in close proximity in your path as you’re out for some fresh air – cross the street and plan a different route for tomorrow instead of brooding.
4. Turn Worry into actions:
A good question to ask yourself is, “can I turn the worry into actions?” If, for example, you are worried about catching COVID-19, think, “can I make sure I am washing my hands, social distancing, choosing to walk down only deserted streets or crossing the street to avoid coming into contact with others.?” I sure can.
Take a break from obsessing over what is going on by setting boundaries relating to when you will talk, think or read about what is going on with the virus. I will only update myself in the afternoons.
Find ways to distract yourself when the anxiety hits. Turn on a podcast or music when you go for walks if that is when you are most triggered. Build a fort for your kids in the living room (just don’t use shopping on Ebay or Amazon as your distraction as that could just increase your stress levels!).
5. Create New Goals:
Set new goals for yourself for this time. What was our focus prior to this is probably not our focus now. So, it is a perfect time to re-evaluate your goals and make new ones. Pick an area of life that you want to improve or reinvent. Is it your career? Your love life? Your home? Your mental health or physical health? Pick some new areas that matter to you and start writing out new action steps to work towards these goals right now. Your life is not on hold if you adjust your goals and action-steps. Make the most out of this time and come out of COVID-19 stronger and better than before.
Let’s use our anxiety in the most productive way possible by channeling that energy towards, first, focusing on what’s withinour control, taking healthy actions to be prepared and setting new goals for this strange new time that we live in! Adapt or die is a saying that I’ve heard before. Let’s focus on adapting!
6. Seek Virtual Mental Help or Counselling:
We have shifted our entire practice to virtual therapy and life coaching and are seeing a huge surge in business. We have highly functional and privacy protected video conferencing software that will make you forget you are not doing an in-person session. Research shows that online counselling is as effective as it’s in-person counterpart.