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  • Writer's pictureDena Lampert

How To Manage Your Anxiety During The Coronavirus Crisis

Updated: Apr 14, 2020

According to recent CDC statistics, the coronavirus has officially reached the US, and is spreading in our area. As always when a health risk is identified, people have become pretty agitated and concerned. And for good reason, the coronavirus is pretty scary!

Experiencing moderate levels of anxiety is not only normal, but it’s actually desirable. Feeling mildly alarmed pushes us towards taking the necessary precautions to protect our health and those around us. But while some anxiety is beneficial and action-inducing, panicking about coronavirus can impact your daily life. For people with a history of anxiety disorder, it might be even harder to maintain their calm during the coronavirus outbreak.

As the world is becoming increasingly obsessed with this new virus, we’re here to help you rationalize the situation and control your anxiety levels. To achieve this, we need to take a look at why the fear of coronavirus is spread so much faster than the virus itself.

Why is coronavirus so scary?

Though there’s not enough data yet, however, the coronavirus is estimated to have a higher mortality rate (2%) compared to the common flu (0.1%). So that, for sure, is reason enough to feel somewhat alarmed. What’s also alarming is that the flu kills around 400,000 people worldwide every year. And yet, no one seems to worry about the flu nearly as much as they do about coronavirus. Why is that?

The explanation is quite simple. The coronavirus ticks three major boxes when it comes to fear-inducing situations: it’s new, it’s unknown, and it’s everywhere—in the sense that we’re constantly bombarded with upsetting news that fuels our fears. Therefore, our brains evaluate this new threat as a high-risk situation and overestimate the chances of finding ourselves in it.

6 tips to stay calm during the coronavirus outbreak

If you find yourself constantly worrying about coronavirus and going to great lengths to avoid getting infected, try the following tips to reduce your anxiety.

1. Stop checking for updates on mass media

It’s nearly impossible to reduce your anxiety if you’re always checking for updates and overwhelm your mind with news and speculations. Most news sites are unlikely to put your mind at ease, as they tend to dwell on dystopian scenarios to attract attention. Meanwhile, they barely remind us of the fact that the coronavirus is, in the vast majority of cases, experienced mildly and doesn’t require hospitalization.

Therefore, it’s best if you rely on websites like CDC or World Health Organization to stay informed. In these websites, you’ll find essential-only information and practical tips to protect and prepare yourself. Even so, you shouldn’t check for updates more than once per day because you’d still be triggering anxious thoughts.

2. Take the appropriate precautions

Following some basic preventive steps, as instructed by the CDC, will help you feel more in control of the situation and ease your anxiety. Here are a few simple things you can do to protect yourself:

  • Wash your hands with soap for 20 seconds, especially before eating and after using the bathroom, coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose. If that’s not an option, use hand sanitizers that contain at least 60% alcohol.

  • If possible, keep a distance of six feet from others. Avoid all contact with people who are sick.

  • Disinfect frequently used surfaces.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. If you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with your elbow.

Also, keep in mind that face masks are addressed to health professionals only. As long as you follow the instructions above, there’s no need to wear one.

3. Take good care of yourself

Strengthen your immune system and reduce your anxiety at the same time by taking care of yourself. Start by making a good night’s sleep your priority, as even one night of poor sleep can weaken your immune system. Also, make sure you fill your body with nutritious food. A balanced diet will fortify your immune system and balance your mood. Favor fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains over sugar and processed food. Exercise is also a valuable ally, as it boosts your virus immunity while also providing an outlet to release stress.

4. Practice relaxation

Meditation can help your mind let go of anxious thoughts more quickly and not get consumed by them. Similarly, practicing deep breathing and engaging in relaxing physical activities like swimming and yoga can help you relieve stress while exercising.

5. Be prepared

Taking practical steps to prepare in case you or someone else in your family gets sick will give you some peace of mind. The government’s website, for example, advises having two-week food and water supplies. Also, check your nonprescription drugs and health supplies, making sure you have pain relievers, vitamins, and drinks with electrolytes.

6. Make the best of social distancing and self-isolation

Social distancing and self-isolation are tough for everyone. But each coin has two sides. You can either complain and succumb to boredom. Or, you can accept this crisis for what it is—a temporary situation, which requires some sacrifices so that it doesn’t escalate—and make the best of it.

Working from home, for example, has many benefits. It’s a chance to get some extra sleep and detox from the madness of crowds and traffic. Staying at home also gives you a chance to engage in activities you always meant to do but didn’t have the time for. There are many great apps that currently offer big discounts or extended free trials on most in-door activities. Now is the time to start a new language, practice yoga, and meditation, try new recipes, or read more books. You can also continue exercising at home, even if you have no equipment.

Not seeing your friends and family is the toughest part of this story. Texting is not an effective substitute for social interaction. Call your friends on the phone instead or on Skype so that you can have visual contact as well.

If you feel that you’re not coping well and that your life is disrupted, you might benefit from talking with a therapist.

1 Comment

Mar 13, 2020

Thank you for this informational blog. I get overwhelmed and anxious about all the hype in the media. I do follow the CDC for information and suggested precautions.

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