The ever-evolving status of the coronavirus outbreak has a lot of people feeling anxious and overwhelmed. What can you do during this time to preserve your mental health? Keys include 1) limiting time on social media and news apps, 2) trying to be realistic with fears and creating a plan to mitigate these if possible, and 3) finding ways to stay physically active and emotionally engaged while social distancing.
The coronavirus pandemic has caused a lot of people to feel anxious during this uncertain time. People with anxiety disorders are feeling their symptoms perhaps with greater severity; and others are finding themselves worrying about family, the status of the outbreak, etc. It is so important to tend to your mental health just as much as your physical health right now. Some ideas include limiting time on social media and carving out only a set amount of time to check the news (from reliable sources of course like the CDC and WHO).
Our knee-jerk reaction may be to constantly search for updates, but this could result in more panic and anxiety. Try setting a limit on how much news you read and how much information you are taking in regarding the situation. There is a fine line between staying informed and inundating oneself.
Moreover, when fears start to creep up, it can be helpful to name them by writing them down or speaking them aloud to a friend or therapist. Think about the reality of your fear. Some people may get hospitalized, some people may get sick, but HOPE IS NOT LOST. Lynn Bufka from the American Psychological Association comments that we tend to “underestimate our abilities to cope” in difficult situations. If something specific is stressing you, try making a concrete plan (i.e.-checking in once a week with an elderly relative by phone or Skype). Now, more than ever, therapy can be beneficial in keeping us grounded. CalPsychiatry offers telepsychiatry services for California Residents. We utilize a video platform that is HIPAA compliant and can accommodate weekend and evening hours as well.
Lastly, “social distancing” does not have to be terrible! We can go for a walk and breathe the fresh air (while being a safe distance from others, of course). We can Facetime friends over wine and cheese and even watch a romcom together! Let this be the time that we reconnect with each other in new and creative ways.