Don’t gather in groups larger than 50 people. Don’t touch your face. Wash your hands for 20 seconds. Sanitize. Don’t gather in groups larger than 10 people. Stay home. Do you have flu-like symptoms? You might have the coronavirus (also know as COVID-19). You’re asymptomatic? You still might have the coronavirus. Do you have groceries? Do you have enough toilet paper? Have you heard the latest update? How anxious should everyone be about the dangers of the coronavirus?
Are you feeling anxiety about Coronavirus? Are you overwhelmed yet?
Amid the growing concerns related to the coronavirus disease of 2019 (or COVID-19, as it’s been named), new articles surface every day discussing the impact that this new virus has had so far on countries around the world. Most people are feeling the impact of the virus on their day-to-day life even without perusing the latest news cycle—new mandates require people to work from home, schools are cancelled, and there’s a sudden short of toilet paper, of all things. We’re all working overtime to take precautions in order to stay physically healthy. But what about our mental health?
Here are a few tips for managing the seemingly inevitable stress and anxiety related to COVID-19:
Do what you can, then give yourself permission to focus on other things.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website has an excellent guide on COVID-19 including symptoms, what to do if you’re sick, and precautions to take in order to slow the spread of the virus. As of now, the latest recommendations are to wash your hands often (for at least 20 seconds at a time), distance yourself from others (especially social groups of larger than 10 people), clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces in your home, and to practice good hygiene (cover coughs and sneezes, stay home if you’re sick, and wear a facemask if you are sick and have to see a doctor or otherwise go out in public.)
And that’s it. That’s all you need to do. Once you know what to do, you can take comfort in knowing that you’re taking the necessary precautions to avoid spreading the virus or becoming contaminated yourself. Anything else is out of your hands.
Practice boundaries with the coronavirus.
Can you remember what we all talked about before the coronavirus dominated everything we saw, read, or listened to on TV or the internet? This is big news, so it isn’t surprising that it’s everywhere you look. But there is a point where more information isn’t helpful; instead, constant flooding of your newsfeed with the latest celebrity or athlete who has tested positive just becomes scary and overwhelming without actually bringing anything good into our lives.
Here’s what boundaries with the COVID-19 looks like:
“I’m feeling overwhelmed by all this talk of the virus.”
“If you aren’t feeling well, I’d prefer you stayed home.”
“I appreciate you trying to help talk to me about this, but I need to deal with my feelings about the virus myself.”
“Honestly, I’m a little coronavirus’d out. Can we talk about something else?”
Boundaries are about creating change in your environment in order to allow you to manage your own feelings in the way that you need to. It may be difficult to limit the degree to which the coronavirus takes up space in your mind, but there comes a time where unplugging from the never-ending updates may free up some space for you to do other things that will further help restore some balance to your life.
Hold on to your routines—and your social support!
What did you do before the coronavirus required you to stay home? Who did you spend time with? It’s easy to begin to feel stuck when you feel as though you’re unable to continue with your regular life, especially when there isn’t a definitive timeline for when life will return to “normal.” Take a moment to ask yourself—what if this was my new normal? Do I have to give those things up completely? Or can I recapture some of my hobbies or friendships through other means?
Cinema enthusiast? Movie rentals are more accessible than ever. Try having a movie night at home with stovetop popcorn and store-bought candy. Is your yoga studio closed? There are tons of free yoga videos available on YouTube that you can do in the comfort of your own home.
Beyond removing you from your hobbies, social distancing can feel isolating. If you’re accustomed to getting together with your friends for a drink on the weekends, try to keep that routine alive. Services like FaceTime, Google Hangouts, and Zoom allow for multiple people to video chat with each other at once, so you can keep your weekly hangouts without risking contagion.
Now is also a great time to get connected with online communities who may be interested in the same things as you, or to try a new hobby like board games or Get back into reading or try cooking a new recipe. There are plenty of options; the important thing is to carve out some space to enjoy thinking or experiencing something that isn’t panic over the pandemic.
For those who make use of therapy to help manage their stress or anxiety, or those who have been considering it, the CDC’s recommendations to stay home pose a particular problem. Fortunately, many therapists are beginning to offer therapy services over an online, video chat platform. The therapists at Bergen Counseling Center are now offering telehealth services for current and new clients to help provide support during this pandemic which may also be covered by your insurance plan. Contact us for a free 15 minute consultation to see if teletherapy services would be a good fit for you.