The recent coronavirus pandemic is changing our lives in a lot of ways. Public gatherings that were normal up until two weeks ago have now been canceled. Social distancing is a necessity and the entire world is enforcing unprecedented lockdowns. General fear and panic outspread is all but expected at this point. So people already dealing with anxiety will be overwhelmed by the threat, and helplessness this pandemic has brought on.
I saw an Instagram post a few days ago that offered simple tips on how to cope with anxiety in this sensitive situation. That prompted me to write the following text in which I gathered a list of helpful pieces of advice given by mental health specialists to deal with stress and anxiety in a more effective way. No two forms of anxiety are alike so to some people, the tips mentioned underneath will not be of much help. However, the purpose of this article above all, is to serve as a reminder that we are not alone. And feeling stressed in these conditions is not only okay but totally normal as well.
Social distancing does not equate social isolation.
This is to say, that just because physical isolation is required, it doesn’t have to mean a total disconnection from your friends and family. This may seem like a logical thing to say, but some people would take social distancing literally. It’s important to reach out and keep in touch with our loved ones, without letting the coronavirus pandemic consume much of the conversation.
Limit News Intake.
Being aware of the spread of the coronavirus and its development is different from obsessing over it. Consuming endless amounts of news about the virus, and constantly seeking new information every second will only heighten your anxiety, rather than make you actively aware of the statistics. Allow yourself time during the day to check the news. Make sure it is from trusted sources like WHO and sante.gov.dz and not unreliable Facebook posts, but do not overdo it.
Focus on what you can control.
One of the reasons why anxiety levels would be so high right now is helplessness and lack of control. Not knowing the outcome of this virus is enough to cause stress. But whether we like it or not, this pandemic is not within our control. However, there are things we can do in response that are completely doable and up to us. For example washing our hands thoroughly, limiting our outings, and listening to the advice of health professionals.
Acknowledge your anxiety.
Many professionals suggest writing down your concerns to face them more effectively. Knowing your emotions, and allowing yourself to feel them is a positive step toward managing your stress better — it will help you in determining the intensity of your feelings and how they are affecting you, to decide what’s next. It’s best to put it in mind that this suggestion will not necessarily work for everyone and that’s fine. The point is to find the most effective solution that helps you.
Argue the opposite.
Instead of worrying about your loved ones catching the disease, or the world collapsing due to coronavirus pandemic, try and remind yourself that there is a chance that things will turn out for the better. The purpose of this is not to suddenly erase your concerns, or willing yourself to blindly trust that everything will end up alright eventually. It’s rather about finding a realistic balance.
This global pandemic is an exceptionally stressful period for everyone. It is undoubtedly even more distressing for people suffering from anxiety. As stated above, because it is necessary to stress the following, these strategies will not work for everybody. We all deal with our anxiety differently and there is no correct way to do it, but hopefully these small tips will guide you toward more effective approaches to handling your mental health better.
Author: Nachoua Nour Nait Ali.