How to manage anxiety about CORONA VIRUS?

WHO states that CORONA VIRUS is a large family of viruses that causes illness ranging from as mild as common cold to as severe as respiratory difficulties. Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death. WHO has characterized this as a pandemic.
Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing with soap, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing with use of tissue and discarding it immediately,and thoroughly cooking meat and eggs. Avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing is important too. Wearing full sleeve cloths so that elbow area can be used to scratch the face or to cough and sneeze into it. Social distancing will help to stop the spread of this virus too.
Irrespective of the precautions and measures taken to avoid the further spread, more number of cases are reported everyday which has created astrong emotions among people like anger, sadness, anxiety, panic, tension as well as stress amongst people for the threat it poses.
Everyone copes with stress in their own and unique ways. Crises like this tends to bring out the best as well as the worst in humanity. People can show difficulties in their sleep, appetite as well as concentration due to heightened anxiety and stress levels. Consumption of tobacco, alcohol or drugs can increased as a way to cope with the stress. Hence staying calm at this hour of the outbreak is important. This will help to reduce the anxiety and cope with the stress in healthy and effective ways. In turn, coping in healthy ways will help to stay calm, attend and care more for self, loved ones as well as to the community.

Following are the ways that can be used as a way to cope with the stress as well as anxiety:

  • Take breaks from watching or reading to the newsthrough use of social media platform or through listening from people around and through SMS/calls. Cut contact from people who constantly talk about it and ifits not helpful. Hearing frequently about the no of cases, death count or how its spreading widely can increase the anxiety and stress level creating a panic. Yes, repeated sharing about our worries help too at times. Hence it’s important to not overdo it.
  • Maintaining a diary or journal to express self be helpful too. This will help to reduce passing the anxiety from one to another.
  • Follow the safety measures suggested by experts of WHO which is listed on their websites too. Take care of yourself first and then your loved ones by reminding them too to follow it.
  • Educating children about the virus as well as about the safety measures will help them to stay safe too and follow these measures. Using the language that children can understand will benefit- e.g.: with small children using a word like virus monster instead of coronavirus-19. Also, not exposing children to the news about the virus will help to reduce their anxiety and stress level.
  • Allow children to express their emotions (as not going to school, not meeting friends or not following a routine too can create a stress in children) and then share ways to cope with them along with the ways you as an adult are coping and handling things. Be a role model for them to follow.
  • As school, tuitions and activity classes are closed, they have lot of free time. Assigned interesting and relaxing task to do at home, spend time with them by playing games, reading stories etc. Provide a new routine to the child to follow. This will save them from boredom and will help to keep self-occupied.
  • Do meditation or some form of exercise at home to relax self- it can be Yoga, Dance, Zumba, skipping or as simple as taking deep breaths, stretch body, tightening the muscles of body and relaxing it.
  • Find ways to calm down by involving self into recreational activities- dancing, listening to music, and using art and craft work as a medium to express self, cooking, connecting with friends for lighter and fun filled conversation, watching comedy movies, or reading jokes.
  • Eating healthy, sleep on time and avoiding consumption of substances.
If daily living activities start suffering thenseek professional help through therapy/counseling. It can be online or telephonic counseling too. This will help in managing the strong emotions arising during this phase. This will also help to maintain and follow the social distancing as suggested.

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Author
AJEETA MULYE
Psychologist & Outreach associate
Mpower – The Foundation
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