How to deal mentally with the Coronavirus pandemic
We’re making lot of changes to our everyday lives. We may be overwhelmed with news everywhere we turn. We’re making sacrifices to protect our physical health and the health of everyone around us.
With that, there’s growing anxiety about the whole situation. Paul Gionfriddo, the President and CEO of Mental Health America (MHA) observed, “As the number of cases of COVID-19 increase, so does the associated anxiety.” MHA experienced a 19 percent increase in screening for clinical anxiety in the first weeks of February and a 12 percent increase in the first two weeks of March.
The numbers don’t lie. This pandemic is already taking its toll on our collective mental health.
If this is true for you, know that you are not alone. All of us are feeling it. It’s completely normal to feel worried — about how long this will last, whether you or your loved ones will be impacted, and if you’re prepared enough for a quarantine.
Yes, there are things out of our control right now, but there are plenty of things we can do for ourselves — little things, little steps, day by day. Here’s what you can start doing right now to help calm some of your Coronavirus-related anxiety and boost your mental health.
Know that your feelings are valid
It’s okay to feel worried, stressed, overwhelmed, angry, or scared. That’s natural and totally understandable. This is probably the first time any of us have experienced anything like this. Knowing that your feelings are valid can help you understand them.
Don’t dwell on your fears
There’s no reason to sugar-coat it: this is a difficult time in the world, and people’s lives are being turned upside down in a lot of different ways. But dwelling on your stresses and fears rarely helps you to see the light at the end of the tunnel. So focus on what you can control and try to concentrate on what you can influence positively.
Work through the symptoms of anxiety
Most importantly, you have to feel like you can handle all of the symptoms that anxiety throws your way. When you’re in the middle of an anxiety attack, we want you to feel prepared. Take a look at How To Fight Back When Your Anxiety Attacks. This will help you find some calm again.
Be mindful of where and when you’re getting your news
Everywhere you look and everything you read has something to do with Coronavirus. There’s a lot of information floating around, and it’s hard to weed out what’s real. And knowing the facts can really help ease your anxiety. So go straight to the source — the Center for Disease Control’s Coronavirus page or the World Health Organization. Or for Czech language see the site of the Czech ministry of health (https://www.mzcr.cz/). There are up-to-date facts and information that can help anyone and everyone.
It’s also incredibly easy to get sucked into a news whirlpool for your entire day. Don’t let that happen! Give yourself 15 minutes every day to get caught up with the situation, and then try to move on. It can be tough to break out of the endless news cycle — but just do your best.
Just sitting around and waiting for the virus to arrive would drive anybody crazy. Physical activity or concentrated mental work will keep our brain busy and give us some relief. Even if we should be restricted to our four walls at home, there is still plenty what we can do – repairing the broken lamp, mending the ill functioning sink or just finishing the photo album from our holidays three years ago. If you are physically in good shape, take your chances and have a nice walk outside or even a bike ride in the woods.
Talk about it
Like always, we’re going to try and get you to talk about your mental health. And for better or worse, Coronavirus is making it even easier to open up to the people you love. There’s a really good chance that people in your life are feeling the exact same way right now. Anxiety is higher than ever, and just talking about it makes things feel a little less scary. Try it, and see how it can help you. If your worries are fueled by some concrete health issue, do not hesitate to contact me or one of my colleagues at Unicare Medical Center. We will try our best to clarify your concerns.
Ondřej Masner, MD
GP and Psychosomatic Medicine
Unicare Medical Center
Parts used from IDONTMIND, a mental health awareness campaign
Image source: Pikrepo.com