Fears about COVID-19 can take an emotional toll since there has been loss of life, rapid changes to lifestyle and disrupted plans due to travel restrictions and social distancing measures in a bid to check transmission of the virus. Naturally, people are concerned about their and their loved ones’ health and safety, especially if there is a history of anxiety disorder.
It’s important to recognise the seriousness of the challenge and be mindful that reacting with panic and fear is unhelpful, especially in the long-term. Looking after our wellbeing in times like this can help reduce stress and crucial in enabling us to stay calm in the midst of this global crisis.
For many people, the uncertainty surrounding coronavirus is the hardest thing to handle. We don’t know how exactly we’ll be impacted or how bad things might get. This could spiral out into overwhelming dread and panic. But there are many things you can do—even in the face of this unique crisis—to manage your anxiety and fear.
It’s vital to be informed, particularly about what’s happening in the community, so you can follow precautions and do your bit to slow the spread of coronavirus. There’s also a lot of misinformation going around, so it’s important to be discerning about what you read and watch.
Plan for what you can
It’s natural to be concerned about what may happen if your workplace closes, children have to stay home from school, you or a loved one gets sick. While these possibilities can be scary to think about, being proactive can help relieve some of the anxiety.
Stay connected even in isolation
Evidence shows that many people with infection—particularly young and seemingly healthy people—don’t have symptoms but can still spread the virus. That’s why the biggest thing that most people can do right now is to practice social distancing.
Support loved ones
Be in touch with loved ones often. Communication can help you and your loved ones feel less lonely and isolated. Be it through telephone, email, text messages or social media, acknowledge your feelings. It’s important to know that the way you are feeling right now is okay, and allow yourself to express what you’re feeling. This could be through writing, talking to others, or channelling your emotions into creative acts like drawing, painting, poetry, music. Meditation can help stay grounded in the midst of an emotional storm. You can learn how to witness and let thoughts and feelings come and go instead of getting overwhelmed.
Maintain your day-to-day activities and a routine as much as possible. Follow the basics of eating healthy meals, physical exercise, getting enough sleep and doing things you like. Even in self-quarantine or working from home there are ways to develop a new routine.
Remember that physical distancing does not mean social disconnection. There are many ways we can use technology to stay connected and give and receive support remotely. It could be via a call or video-chat with friends and family, sharing easy food recipes, scheduling a workout together over video chat or joining an online group or peer forum.