Anxious about Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Here Are Some Helpful Suggestions by Irene W. Leigh, PhD, Psychologist

 You may be anxious and stressed out about coronavirus. Are you afraid of what might happen if you get sick?  Are you confused about all the different suggestions for preventing coronavirus? Are all the alarming stories about the spread of coronavirus frightening you? Are you afraid to hug family members? Did you rush out and stock up on lots of hand sanitizers and wipes? Are you nervous about touching your face? Do you feel stuck in the house? Are you worried about your income?

You are not alone. Many people are anxious and stressed. Anxiety can limit your body’s ability to fight infection because it suppresses the immune system. Yes, it is important to know the facts and take steps to protect yourself and your loved ones. Here are some suggestions about what to do so that you don’t feel so anxious or stressed.

  • Keep informed, but don’t watch the news nonstop. Watching too much news may make you even more anxious. There is lots of uncertainty, and the best thing is to accept that we don’t know what will happen. Take breaks from the news.
  • Social support is very important for mental health. Keep in touch with family members and friends. Thanks to videophones and VRS, even if we have to stay at home, we are not alone or isolated. There’s FaceTime and Skype as well. Because so many of us have to stay at home, we have more time to talk. How about saying “Hi” to your children or grandchildren? If you have a FaceBook account, FaceBook is a great way to see what others are doing or thinking. There are lots of videos on YouTube so you can see what is going on. Positive connections will help your stress level!
  • Take care of your body. Following healthy routines will strengthen your body. That means eating healthy meals every day, especially fruits and vegetables, sleeping 6 to 8 hours a day, and moving your body. Sleep helps to reboot the immune system. Exercise is a great way to reduce anxiety and stress. Keep your body moving when you can. Go for a walk where there are few people. If you have a dog, walk your dog and think positive thoughts. If you can relax your body, you can relax your mind as well. You will feel better afterwards. Not only that, moderate exercise, including walking, lowers stress hormones, which reduces your chances of getting sick.
  • If you feel tense, take deep breaths, perhaps ten at a time. This will help clear your mind and you will feel a bit more calm and less worried. Google “mindfulness” on the web to find different breathing and muscle relaxation exercises. These mindfulness exercises do help lower your risk of getting sick, though the risk is never 100% gone.
  • Keep yourself occupied. Play games. Watch funny movies. Take up your favorite hobby if you have one. Do stuff around the house that you have been putting off, if you can. For example, you could organize your clothes closet, or get rid of stuff that is cluttering some space. Don’t forget to take breaks in between to catch your breath!
  • If you find that your anxiety or stress is overwhelming, ask for help. Reach out to someone you trust. It could be your doctor, a close friend or family member, or a mental health therapist.

By taking care of ourselves, we will all get through this coronavirus pandemic. Stay healthy and be of good cheer!

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