To manage anxiety associated with the coronavirus
The recent developments in the world due to the coronavirus affect us all to a greater or lesser extent. It is understandable to have anxiety or to feel scared, and that those feelings also affect our behavior. When new information is presented daily, it can be difficult to know what to believe and how to evaluate the real danger.
A lot regarding the virus and its consequences are still unknown and the information is sometimes incongruent. All this uncertainty can feel difficult to handle. What we can do is to listen to the recommendations from the authorities, to not expose ourselves to situations that clearly increase the risk of infection, and to be sure to take good care of ourselves.
Tips on how to manage anxiety on your own
- It is ok to read and gather information that can help you take reasonable precautions. The important thing is to be critical and to use safe resources. If you find that the search for information gets exaggerated and that your anxiety is reinforced by what you read, try to reduce the time you spend following the media coverage.
- Accept that you are worried. To feel anxious or scared is normal and part of our survival techniques. Try to talk to yourself in the same friendly and reassuring way that you would to a friend. Remember that all emotions are ok to feel.
- Try to pause, note your thoughts, and put words to what you are thinking. Remind yourself that a thought is just a thought. Everything we think will not happen in reality. If we believe in everything we think it can lead to catastrophising, which makes us even more frightened and worried.
- Talk to others about your concerns.
- Try to change focus by doing things that make you think of something else and makes you feel good; e.g. have contact with friends and family, read a book, listen to music, work out or be out in nature.
- Focus on things that you can control and take care of yourself by maintaining good eating and sleeping habits and by being physically active.
- Use the knowledge you have about what has helped you in the past to deal with things that have been difficult in your life.
- Practice your ability to be mindful in the present. It can be a counterbalance to the anxiety and help you consciously choose where you want to focus. Try, for example, to note things in the environment with the help of your senses: notice three sounds you hear, notice three things you see, touch three things, and/or do a breathing exercise.
- Avoid using smoking, alcohol or other drugs to handle your feelings.
There can be a fine line between having normal anxiety and excessive worry. In the current situation, it can be specifically difficult to determine whether or not your anxiety is at a reasonable level. If your anxiety becomes difficult to handle and/or is hindering you in your everyday life, it is important to seek professional help.