10 Tips to Help If You Feel Anxious and Scared About COVID-19
The impact that the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is having on our lives may cause you to feel anxious, stressed, worried, sad, bored, lonely or frustrated. It is important to realize that your concerns are valid, and these responses are not abnormal—it is okay to feel this way!
There are some simple things we can do to help take care of our mental health and wellbeing during times of uncertainty. Doing so allows us think more clearly, helping us to better look after ourselves and those we care about.
Here are 10 Tips to help improve and maintain your mental health and wellbeing if you are worried about the pandemic—
1. Stay Connected with People –
Maintaining healthy relationships and communication with people you trust is crucial for your mental wellbeing. Face-to-face contact with family and friends is very important. Following current health advice in your area, commit to staying in touch, whether getting together in person, using video conferencing software, calls or text messages. Be creative—this window of opportunity may be a great time to reach out and reconnect with old friends.
We all need to feel connected, so keep in touch.
2. Talk About your Worries and Concerns
It’s normal to be worried or even to feel a little helpless given the current situation. Remember that it’s okay to share your concerns with the people you trust, and that in doing so, you may help them too.
If you’re not able to speak to someone you know, consider calling a pastor, counselor or one of the many community helplines available. Speak to someone.
3. Support and Help Others
Helping others tends to be mutually beneficial. Listening to others’ concerns helps you gain perspective and realize you’re not facing the crisis alone. Learning how others are doing, hearing their concerns and seeing how they’re coping can be quite a spirit-boost. Are there things you can do to help others?
Is there a family member or friend nearby that you could meet, call or message? Are there any community groups you could join, or service agencies with whom you might volunteer? Look for organizations to donate to and for other ways to get involved helping your neighbors and community.
4. Plan and Be Prepared
As the coronavirus and mitigation efforts continue, it can be helpful to stay abreast of and work through changing guidelines. Planning and being prepared through each stage of this pandemic and response can help you feel more prepared and less anxious.
It can help to think through potential provisions in advance—perhaps speak to your employer, seek information on additional government and agency supports available to people in your specific circumstances.
5. Take Care of Your Body
Our physical health has a big impact on how we feel. At times like these, it can be easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of behavior that wind up making you feel worse.
Protect your sleep schedule. Eat healthy and nutritious meals and snacks, and at regularly scheduled times. Drink enough water. Establish or maintain an exercise schedule. Go for a walk, a run or a bike ride. Take in fresh air. Enjoy nature.
6. Limit Media
Try to limit the amount of time you spend watching, reading or listening to the news. Get your information on the coronavirus outbreak from a trusted source, such as the CDC or WHO, once or twice a day. Make space in your day for activities and conversations that have nothing to do with the outbreak.
You could set yourself a specific time of day to read updates or limit yourself to a couple of checks a day.
7. Stay on Top of Your Feelings
Concern about the coronavirus outbreak is normal. However, some people may experience intense anxiety that can affect their daily life. Try to focus on the things you can control, such as your behavior, who you speak to, and where and how often you get information
Acknowledge that some aspects of this pandemic and response are beyond your control. If you become overwhelmed, reach out for help.
8. Put Your Mind on the Things You Enjoy
Feeling worried, anxious or discouraged might stop you from doing things you usually enjoy. Focusing on your favorite hobby, relaxing, or connecting with others can help quell anxious thoughts and feelings. If you cannot do some of the things you usually enjoy, get creative. Are there ways you could adapt those hobbies or enjoyments for this strange season?
If you cannot do the things you normally enjoy, perhaps you could try something new. There are many free tutorials and courses online. You can actually virtually tour a great many museums and parks and take in virtual arts performances in virtually every artistic discipline. Click and go!
9. Focus on the Present
Focusing on the present, rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, can help you cope with difficult emotions and improve your overall wellbeing.
Prayer, worship, breathing and relaxation exercises are all wonderful tools in helping people deal with anxiety and discouragement, and for staying in the present moment.
10. Take Care of Your Mental Health
People with pre-existing mental health conditions or substance use disorders may be particularly vulnerable in an emergency. Those with conditions such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia which can affect the way you think, feel and relate to others, may find their symptoms worsening during the pandemic.
If you are in treatment for a mental health or substance use disorder, maintain contact with your provider. If you are not in treatment, consider reaching out—