Learning how to manage anxiety and stress is crucial in the time we’re in. The spread of COVID-19, virtually spanning most — if not all — countries around the globe, has instigated fear in people to varying degrees. Some people are capable of staying indoors, fully stocked in food and supplies, while others are forced to leave their homes for reasons of livelihood, sickness, and other related causes. And then there are those who do not even have a home to place themselves in quarantine.
If you fall under the first category, you have better chances of recovering from anxiety and stress. But first, let’s take a look at this thing that’s causing massive global panic.
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (or COVID-19) is a virus strain that may cause:
The first case of an individual getting infected by this virus was determined on the 17 of November in 2019, after which, whistleblowers — such as Li Wenliang, Xu Zhangrun, and Li Zehua — made efforts to inform the public of a possible outbreak. Since then, the virus quickly spread from one country to another, creating a pandemic that’s arguably more colossal, in terms of coverage and panic, than the A/H1N1 in 2009.
When an authoritative body declares a disease a pandemic, it means that an epidemic, which happens when cases of disease increase in a specific area, has “spread over several countries or continents and affects a large percent of the population”, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Such is the case for COVID-19.
Understandably, we are worried about what this new virus strain can do to our bodies. Little is known about it and a cure has not been found. But if you’re young, healthy, and staying inside your house, you’re well on your way to seeing this pandemic pass. Still stressed? Then let’s tackle the ways you can overcome this pandemic-induced anxiety.
Tip #1: Continue doing the things you love, albeit indoors.
Quarantine puts you in a state of bewilderment: You have to continue going about your life as normally as you can despite the limited movement you’re allowed to make. This is true for people who have a place to stay in and money to survive; a lot of people, on the other hand, don’t even have enough food to last them a day, or even a home they can safely lock themselves in. So if you’re staying inside your house with a safety net, acknowledge that you have more to work with than most.
Being able to do things that you love and enjoy — a hobby, taking longer breaks, sleeping more — is something you can take advantage of during the lockdown. This piece of advice comes from an article on NBC New York’s official website. “Create a menu of personal self-care activities that you enjoy, like spending quality time with friends and family, exercising, or reading a book,” the article said.
When you’re stressed out, your body often responds in a damaging way. A study revealed that “[m]any disorders originate from stress, especially if the stress is severe and prolonged.” Moreover, stress may affect your heart rate, blood pressure, and appetite — among many other bodily functions. So manage your anxiety and stress by countering it with activities that make you happy.
Tip #2: Rely only on credible sources for information.
Being aware of updates on the pandemic is necessary. We want to know if progress has been made or if a new development has occurred. But misinformation or “fake news” is likely to circulate when a major event arises.
Claims that the virus dies under extreme heat, prompting people to go outside to disinfect themselves; that drinking bleach can cure COVID-19; that a wet cough indicates you’re not infected are so misleading and downright dangerous that the spread of falsehoods got to the point where Twitter decided to remove these “harmful fake news”.
In the midst of our panic, our sense of urgency tends to cloud better judgment, which is normal human behavior. Knowing this, we can take a step back and ask ourselves, “Is the source of this piece of information a reliable one?”
Check reputable media outlets, websites of trusted organizations (such as CDC), and the like. A social media post’s wild inaccuracy should be enough to convince us to disregard its message altogether.
We exist in a highly uncertain time. And our brains respond anxiously when we’re facing uncertainty. But we can reassure ourselves by consuming the right kind of information, the kind that will help us survive this pandemic and not cause further alarm.
Tip #3: Get involved remotely or donate.
A learning we should gain in this global crisis is that we are all intrinsically and inescapably interlinked. Our actions impact the lives of other people, and in order to rise above this stressful time together, we have to help the people in need.
We can donate money to organizations that help our frontliners and first responders persevere through the pandemic, ensuring that they’re properly fed and provided with enough supplies to carry out the noble work they do for their communities. We can also help people stay informed by sharing accurate and relevant information tackling the virus. Let’s try initiating information campaigns by tapping our local or large news outlets. We can send them updates on our areas. Or perhaps we can write blog posts synthesizing everything we’ve read and learned about how the virus works and how to prevent an infection.
If you’re not a health worker, reach out to your local government and nonprofit, non-governmental organizations to see if you can contribute in some way from inside your home.