How to deal with the anxiety/stress of Coronavirus (COVID-19)

A few pointers to help you deal with the stress/anxiety of COVID-19. This will help alleviate the amount of stress as well as guide you to live life to the best of your ability given the current circumstances
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We are constantly exposed to the news, from the moment we open our eyes and pick up the phoneuntil the moment we put the phone away and shut our eyes; either directly through news outlets or indirectly through conversations, social media, text messages and other means. The questions we may ask ourselves are: “am I next?” “should I be more worried about this?” “am I too worriedabout this?” “am I missing anything?” or “what if my mother who is ill gets it?” “should I stay home?”
Here are a few pointers to help you deal with the stress/anxiety of COVID-19. This will not heal or take away the stress or fear of the virus. I too fear it. But, this will help alleviate the amount of stress as well as guide you to live life to the best of your ability given the current circumstances:
  1. Limit exposure. The point is not to put our head in the sand, the news is real. However, what matters is balancing knowledge vs. overwhelming yourself. The best way to do that is to set a specific and relatively limited amount of time (e.g., 30 min to 1 hour per day) toeducate yourself on the latest facts and analysis. Only read credible sources, focused on facts and actionable advice. These sources might be news outlets, medical websites, or CDC announcements. There is no benefit in surrounding yourself with gossip and other people’s reactions to the news (e.g., most of social media). That will just artificially increase your anxiety throughout the day. But if you notice you are spending many hours reading, talking, or worrying about the issue, it’s time to catch yourself.
  2. Take a deep breath. Breathing in through your lungs and counting to three and breathing out through your lungs counting up to three allows your body to calm itself. You may say:how? I am so stressed or who has time for that? I hear you. This will not change things outside your control (e.g., COVID-19), but it will ease your flight or fight bodily symptoms, which are triggered when your brain (rightly or wrongly) perceives an imminent threat. Try deep breathing ten times in a row, and it may help.
  3. Pay attention to your unhelpful thoughts. As much as it is fair to validate the fear, it is not helpful to think of all the worst possible cases that could happen to you. Acknowledge thethoughts as they come. Say “thank you brain for trying to protect me by coming up with all the worst cases, but I’m good right now.”
  4. Redirect thoughts to other activities. Now that you acknowledge the thought, try to redirect by engaging in an activity that you enjoy, such as singing out loud, reading, working out, calling a friend to just chit chat.
  5. Seek support. Seek out support from family, friends and your therapist to process this fearand help yourself by hearing yourself out loud.
  6. Acknowledge all the good. It is important to remind yourself that you are breathing, you matter and you will overcome anything you put your mind to. Sometimes when focusing on the negative around us, we lose sight of the good around us. Feed the part of your brain that desire love, companionship, support, and care.

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