While you want to try to remain physically healthy during the coronavirus outbreak, it is also important to take care of your mental health. Anxiety and fear may be a normal expectation as you try to navigate the changes and uncertainties of the evolving situation. Even though symptoms of anxiety may increase at this time, it does not have to have a negative impact on your emotional well-being. If you are feeling increased fear and worry, there are some things you can do to help manage coronavirus anxiety.

Anxiety and Fear

Anxiety and fear are a normal response to a situation that can impact your life and routine in a number of ways with a lot of unknowns, such as the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. You may worry about getting sick and how that might affect you. Maybe you are worried that the healthcare system won’t be able to keep up with the demands. There can be financial concerns if you get sick, or if others are no longer supporting your industry. Perhaps you are worried that the situation, or impact of the situation will be long lasting. When there are a lot of uncertainties, it can be easy to imagine the worst case scenario. Although some anxiety can be helpful, as it gives you the motivation to prepare. Too much anxiety can have a negative impact on your emotional well-being. If anxiety is increasing due to the coronavirus, there are some things you can try to help protect your mental health.

1. Learn The Facts

During a pandemic like the coronavirus, it is important to learn the facts. While there may be a lot of information going around, not all of it will be factual. It is important that you get your information from reputable sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), or the World Health Organization (WHO). Learning the facts about the coronavirus, such as symptoms, duration, and how to protect yourself from exposure, enables you to take precautions in meaningful ways. Knowing the facts can help decrease levels of anxiety as it gives you some idea of things you can do that are within your control.

2. Limit Media Exposure

While it is important to stay informed and updated on the coronavirus, too much exposure can cause an increase in your anxiety. This is especially true when you are dealing with uncertainty. If you notice that you are constantly watching or reading the news and your worries and concerns are increasing, you may want to limit your exposure. Limiting your exposure to information about the virus to between 30 and 60 minutes a day can improve your mental health. This also enables your brain to sort and process the information you are getting, instead of feeling overwhelmed by the amount of new information you are receiving.

3. Minimize Your Risk

Although there are many things related to the coronavirus that are not within your control, there are some things you can do to minimize your risk. You can stay home when you are sick and practice social distancing. Avoid contact with those that are sick. Wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds. Try to avoid touching your face often. Keep surfaces clean and disinfected. Cover with a tissue or your elbow when you cough or sneeze. Make sure you have basic supplies and medications you need for yourself and your family members. By taking precautions to minimize your risk, you can decrease feelings of anxiety.

4. Seek Support

Social distancing might be an important practice to minimize the spread of illness. However, social support can help decrease levels of anxiety during this time as well. While social gatherings with friends and loved ones might not be the best idea, there are other ways to stay connected. You can call, video chat, or message friends and loved ones to stay in touch. Share your thoughts, fears and concerns. Listen to what they have to say. While you might be challenged to interact with others differently during this time, it can feel just as supportive and rewarding.

5. Practice Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness is a great way to decrease symptoms of anxiety. Mindfulness refers to being fully present in the moment without judgment. Meditation and grounding techniques can help you practice mindfulness. When you are focusing on what is going on around you, less attention is paid to what is going on within you. This way you are absorbed in what you are doing, instead of what you are thinking. You can try an app, such as Calm or Insight Timer to help you relax or meditate. One of the easiest ways to practice mindfulness is to engage all of your senses. Notice what you are seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, and tasting. Practicing mindfulness is calming, grounding, and relaxing and can help decrease feelings of anxiety.

6. Practice Self-Care

Make self-care a priority. Keep up with your normal routines and daily schedule as much as possible. Eat healthy, exercise, and maintain good sleep habits. Put yourself on your schedule and do things that relax and refresh you. Take a relaxing bath, make a cup of tea, light a scented candle, play a game, or spend time with your family members. It is not really about what you do. The important thing is that you are caring for yourself, both physically and emotionally.

7. Journal 

If you notice your thoughts are racing, or you are catastrophizing, journaling can help. When you journal, you are able to put your thoughts on paper. This can keep you from ruminating on them. It also provides an opportunity to organize your thoughts. Reading over what you wrote enables you to observe your thoughts more objectively. You can then challenge some of your negative thought patterns and look for alternative ways to change them that are both accurate and kind. Doing this can help decrease symptoms of anxiety.

If you are experiencing coronavirus anxiety that is having a negative impact on your emotional well-being at this time, counseling can help. Many therapists are offering virtual sessions now. This way you can take care of your mental health while also protecting your physical health.