The coronavirus has reached a pandemic status and people are stressed, anxious and worried with the uncertainties the virus has brought forth.
The novel coronavirus has already infected tens of thousands of people in over 100 countries. According to an estimate from John Hopkins University, the novel coronavirus has killed more than 6,400 worldwide and the number is steadily rising.
The virus that reportedly originated in a wet market in the city of Wuhan, central China’s Hubei Province has now been considered a global pandemic by WHO.
People across all sectors and domains have been bearing the brunt. With officials advising people to stay at home, the panic and worry is palpable.People are growing increasingly paranoid and experiencing “micro panic attacks,” by just thinking about all the possible ways they could get infected.
“This may be, for some individuals, the stressor that tips them over the edge,” said Lynn Bufka, a clinical psychologist and the senior director of practice, research and policy for the American Psychological Association.
“To the public, it’s very new. We don’t know a lot about it. Information about it keeps changing. . . . That’s what causes us stress: things that are novel but uncertain.”
As rumors surrounding the spread of the virus are rife, people are struggling to remain calm. Constant updates on the prognosis of the infection on various social platforms have taken a toll on people’s mental health.
However, even though the situation looks grim and being cautious and vigilant is important, you can do away with the unnecessary emotional and psychological distress. There is no need to panic or worry with the apparent helplessness of the situation.
1. Learn from the right sources
There is a lot of scaremongering and misinformation floating around which in turn increases stress levels and panic attacks.
It is therefore critical to gain information about COVID-19 from trusted and authentic sources. This will help you understand and gauge the actual risk to yourself and people you care about. Right information can also make an outbreak seem less overwhelming.
Taking a break from news websites and social media is also an another useful way to combat the insecurities arising from the situation.
2. Remain in touch
This may sound counterproductive if you’re isolated with an infection or quarantined or asked to practice “social distancing” by public health officials to reduce viral spread. However, experts stress on keeping in contact with others virtually or physically where possible to tackle loneliness and assuage panic or stress attacks.
This is especially true in cases of vulnerable and at-risk population. Personal relationships are vital in maintaining perspective, keeping the atmosphere light and allowing respite from the looming crisis.
The outbreak might prevent you from hitting the gym, but you can still exercise at home. A 30-60-minute walk can also do wonders for your immune system and mental health. Just make sure you keep a distance of at least 6 ft from others to minimize the risk of catching the virus. Exercise can also help reduce the excess adrenaline build-up associated with anxiety and reduce your stress levels by releasing happy endorphins.
4. Eat Healthy
The novel coronavirus can only harm you more if your immunity is compromised. Since there is no cure or vaccine to prevent infection, the next best step is to eat a healthy, nutritious diet.
Avoid highly processed, salt and sugar laden food items. Eat more fruits, vegetables, cereals and wholegrains.
Fortifying your foods with nutrients that build your immunity include: Vitamins A, B9, B12, C, D and E. Other helpful micronutrients are iron, selenium and zinc.
Studies also show that these micro-nutrients are essential in maintaining healthy emotional and mental systems as well.
5. Enjoy the down time
- Acknowledge: Notice and acknowledge the uncertainty as it comes to mind.
- Pause: Don’t react as you normally do. Don’t react at all. Pause and breathe.
- Pull back: Tell yourself this is just the worry talking, and this apparent need for certainty is not helpful and not necessary. It is only a thought or feeling. Don’t believe everything you think. Thoughts are not statements or facts.
- Let go: Let go of the thought or feeling. It will pass. You don’t have to respond to them. You might imagine them floating away in a bubble or cloud.
- Explore: Explore the present moment, because right now, in this moment, all is well. Notice your breathing and the sensations of your breathing. Notice the ground beneath you. Look around and notice what you see, what you hear, what you can touch, what you can smell. Right now. Then shift your focus of attention to something else – on what you need to do, on what you were doing before you noticed the worry, or do something else – mindfully with your full attention.
Share this article to encourage others to remain healthy and stress free during the coronavirus outbreak.
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