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Thursday, April 2, 2020

You Are Not Alone - How to Manage Anxieties Over COVID-19

We’re living through an unprecedented pandemic that has already affected millions of people’s lives and livelihoods in only a few months. Major cities and even entire countries have issued lockdowns that have changed their citizens’ way of life. Whether you’re in a community that has already experienced the effects of coronavirus, or are preparing for it to arrive, you’ve probably been keeping a close eye on the news and wondering what’s next.

Even the most mentally resilient people are struggling to cope with the “new normal” in these trying times. If you have anxieties over COVID-19, you are not alone. Here are strategies for dealing with three of the most common coronavirus worries.

1. Uncertainty

For many, not knowing what’s to come has been the most challenging thing about recent events. We have no idea how long this crisis will last, how severe it can get or when medical researchers will discover an effective vaccine. In the meantime, many schools, businesses and entertainment venues are closed indefinitely, disrupting everyone’s lives. It’s become nearly impossible to plan for the weeks and months ahead with any confidence.

In the face of such unpredictability, people with anxiety disorders often default to envisioning the worst-case scenario, which can lead to a spiral of overwhelming dread. If this is the case for you, here are some ways to handle it.
  • Limit your news consumption: It’s essential to stay informed, but don’t obsessively check the headlines. Designate one or two specific times each day when you’ll catch up on the news, and only get information from trustworthy sources such as the Centers for Disease Control.
  • Know when to take a break: If anxieties over COVID-19 are taking over your life, it’s OK to give yourself a mini vacation from news consumption. Ask a reliable friend or family member to pass on any crucial updates that may arise while you step away from media.
  • Control what you can: Being proactive can help ease some of your anxieties. For example, write out a list of specific worries you have about coronavirus, as well as any potential solutions you can imagine.

2. Loneliness

With many communities now under stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders for the next 30 days, if not longer, isolation has become a source of anxiety for a lot of people. Humans are social animals, and even the most introverted people get lonely when they can’t visit with friends and family members.

Technology can work to your advantage here. If you start feeling depressed or anxious about missing loved ones, organize an online meetup with an app such as Zoom or Skype. When you have these virtual get-togethers, make sure coronavirus concerns don’t dominate the conversation. Instead, keep it lighthearted and focus on other things happening in your lives.

3. Getting Sick

Another common worry people have about coronavirus is that they will become ill and spread the virus to others. Even young, healthy individuals can infect other people without having any obvious symptoms. Though many cases of COVID-19 have proven to be mild, the virus can be fatal to vulnerable people, such as those who are elderly or immunocompromised. To avoid contracting coronavirus, stay home as much as possible, regularly wash your hands with soap and warm water and follow all guidelines for preventing the transmission of the virus.

Finding Healthy Ways to Cope With Anxiety

If you’re struggling to stay upbeat in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s essential to remember we are all in this together. Make sure to dedicate time to your self-care every day, and recognize when you need a mental health day. If you’ve been relying on substance use to get you through this challenging time, take charge of your life and contact us at Hope Academy for a confidential assessment.
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