Much of the world is experiencing a high level of stress. When we perceive something as stressful, our perception of it creates the same physiological response in our body whether that thing is real or not (1). And stress can manifest in many forms–anxiety, depression, or just a general sense of worry and unease. Regardless, it’s no way to live, and can quickly unravel even the healthiest person’s wellbeing.
A global pandemic, with its seemingly infinite unknowns, can quickly cause our mental health to take a sharp downward spiral. But what are we actually afraid of? Is it the pandemic itself? Or is there something more complex beneath the surface?
It’s Not Your Imagination
Anxiety, fear, and even sometimes stress are your body’s ways of protecting you. They’re letting you know something isn’t right, and you have cause to be on high alert. But, dealing with a global pandemic in our modern society is quite a bit more nuanced than the primitive situations in which these protective mechanisms developed (like avoiding a natural disaster or predator).
So while we appreciate that our protective mechanisms are still working and looking out for our wellbeing, it takes some higher-level thinking to unpack our feelings and apply rational thought to whether or not this situation really warrants those feelings of anxiety or fear. Unfortunately, we are pre-wired for anxiety and negativity.
Stick to the Facts
First identified in December of 2019 in Wuhan, China, this novel coronavirus has affected more than 200,000 people worldwide, approximately 14,000 in the U.S.- and these numbers will change daily. It has resulted in a total of a little more than 10,000 deaths. And also almost 90,000 recoveries so far (2).
When we have a global pandemic such as this, it’s important to focus on the information that we have and make informed decisions based upon that. Anxiety and fear thrive on unknowns.
We know that:
- We can reduce infection with responsible behavior such as social distancing, hand washing, and staying home except for essential outings.
- There is time to positively impact the effect of COVID-19.
- Medical researchers are quickly learning and developing more effective treatment methods, and a possible vaccine.
- Self-quarantines, or sheltering in place is NOT a punishment. They help lessen the burden on healthcare workers.
- Supporting your immune system can boost your body’s defense.
Pandemics are unique in that they DO carry a high degree of uncertainty because they’re heavily dependent upon our social behavior. There are legitimate aspects of this pandemic that have some of us rattled–finances, the safety of our families, to name a couple.
But let’s put this in perspective. For the vast majority of us, the COVID-19 outbreak is not the only thing on our plate. In addition to new fears, we still have all the factors of our regular lives that weigh heavy on our minds.
Many of us don’t have the emotional bandwidth to adequately process another crisis on top of what we’re already dealing with.
When that happens, the best course of action is to be proactive. You are a capable adult who is in control of your own thoughts and feelings, and this is a skill we can cultivate. Starting right now.
Tips to Beat Anxiety: Coronavirus Edition
Find the source of your fear.
Don’t let your anxiety simmer in the background, silently feeding off your fear of the unknown. Write down your thoughts and fears, no matter how far-fetched they may seem. This is how we get them out in the open to be dealt with.
Don’t neglect self-care.
This is a phrase everyone should hear often, but especially right now: Self-care is not indulgent, it’s a necessity. Engage in healthy, restoring activities that bring you comfort and balance. Conversation, exercise, meditation, and yoga are great ideas–but don’t be afraid to think outside the box with helping others, making art, or getting creative juices flowing. Anything that brings you peace is of utmost importance right now.
Remember that we’re all struggling right now. In one way or another, to different degrees, and in different places. But we can all share a feeling of solidarity in learning how to navigate what might be our new normal for a brief period. You may see the worst in people in news media, but working together with our friends and neighbors (and strangers), we can all weather this much better with kindness and acknowledgment.
Just because you’re “social distancing” doesn’t mean you still can’t connect! Going through something difficult is when the best relationships are forged. Host a happy hour or dinner date via Skype, Zoom, or Google hangouts. We have the technology–put it to good use!
Much of our COVID-19 pandemic anxiety does come from the need to prepare for the worst, and this can feel pretty paralyzing. We’re not facing a mandated quarantine or a curfew, but to minimize your outings, it’s best to have a couple of weeks of supplies on hand.
If you haven’t done this yet, simply start now. You have plenty of time, there are plenty of groceries, and still plenty of toilet paper. Get a friend to go with you, or help hold you accountable for at least developing a small, manageable plan.
- Medications or supplements
- Activities (crafts, coloring, etc.)
- Personal items (pads, bandaids, shampoo, toiletries)
- Household items like dishwasher soap, laundry detergent
- Pet supplies
Again, stocking up isn’t a punishment–it’s meant to minimize trips to the store to decrease yours, and everyone else’s, contact with one another.
Get a little creative.
Let’s try to use our rational thinking to the best of our ability and do that we do best–adapt. It’s time to change our day to day routines a little bit, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still be happy, thriving, people.
- Walking/jogging in your neighborhood
- Walk the dog
- Down Dog App is making all of their at-home courses free until April 1st, 2020.
- SimpleHabit is a free, guided meditation app – Meditation supports immune health and mood.
- Take a bath – light candles, add essential oils, it’s all about indulging for a while.
- Nourish your body – many of us turn to sugary foods when stressed or anxious. Use your extra time at home to heal your gut. It’s the key to optimal immune function–so it’s important now more than ever to nourish the root of all health. Find out what a Belly Fix can do for you!
- Sleep – Have a nighttime routine to let your body wind down, and try to keep your bedroom clean, cool, and dark. Sleep Savior promotes a restful night’s sleep for those who need a little extra help.
- If you’ve been waiting to read, check out Dr.Taz’s The Super Woman RX you can better support yourself with the right diet, exercise, and health plan (As a bonus, enter your receipt number on the website and snag three free gifts!)
- Get creative with crafts for yourself and your kids – make animals with pipe cleaners and pom-poms, or a birdhouse with large popsicle sticks. It’s spring after all!
- Adult coloring books
- Spring cleaning – what better time for some new beginnings!
- Learn something new – a language, a skill, how to sew or cook
I’d like to hear your hopes and plans for the upcoming weeks. How are you and yours spending your time at home?
I whole-heartedly have faith that we can all get through this together by sharing our experiences and supporting one another. This is an opportunity for wisdom and growth on our journey to becoming Super Powered women and sustaining whole families.