A certain amount of worry and anxiety about the coronavirus (COVID 19) pandemic is natural. However, for some people, a healthy sense of concern and worrying can become overwhelming and unhealthy. The brain creates and responds through excitement and fight-or-flight responses when in fearful situations. The symptoms of anxiety are often a manifestation of fear. Worrying too much can turn into anxiety and can lead to panic attacks.
The fear of contracting COVID 19 is causing fear around the world as the number of known cases continues to raise and people are dying. The fear of contracting the disease and dying is creating heighten levels of anxiety.
It is important to understand how to manage the daily influx of information and not to become obsessed with avoiding contamination. So, what can be done to help manage the symptoms of COVID 19-related anxiety?
- Take healthy precautions: Acknowledge that COVID 19 is real, and you should take as many self-precautions as possible. For example, keep your hands clean using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Choose a hands-free greeting instead of a handshake. Maintain adequate social distance, particularly in crowded scenarios.
- Healthy diet & hydration: Maintain a healthy diet and drink plenty of water. Eat foods that are rich in immune system-boosting vitamins and nutrients.
- Adequate rest: Get adequate rest and sleep. Generally, eight hours of restful sleep each night. Eight hours of sleep helps you to stay calm, grounded and focused throughout the day. It is also useful for maintaining energy and supporting a healthy immune system.
- Limit social media & news: Reduce media exposure to avoid information overload, which can also trigger anxiety. Take breaks from social media, reading, watching or listening to news stories about the pandemic.
- Joyful thoughts: Find healthy distractions (think of happy places) and other activities that help to create joyful thoughts.
- Entertainment & exercise: Watch an entertaining movie. Talk with a relative or friend about your thoughts and what worries you. Go for a walk or do some exercise. Create some self-reflective spiritual time. Do not isolate yourself; this could lead to depression.
- Work: Work within the limitations and guidelines provided by health science professionals.
Keep in mind that even though it is currently causing a significant inconvenience, that you are resilient enough to “bounce back” once the crisis is over.
By Dr. Janice Beal and Dr. Dashiel Geyen