Corona Virus anxiety is rampant and may be interfering with the quality of your life, especially your peace of mind. But you don’t have to passively sit by and be victimized by fear. Discover some proactive strategies for dealing with this state of uncertainty while holding on to your psychological well being.
Corona Virus Anxiety Is Triggered By:
- Fear of the unknown
- Loss of predictability/control
- Fear of death/Loss of health
- Involuntary loss of livelihood, and the threat of ensuing poverty
- Increased social isolation and loneliness
- Pre-existing vulnerabilities to anxiety (PTSD, Trauma, OCD, Phobias, GAD, etc)
- 24/7 News Cycles ratcheting up fear and panic to garner higher ratings
Get the Facts:
- Covid-19 is a Respiratory Infection primarily spread by respiratory droplets from an infected or pre-symptomatic person who exhales these droplets on you, your meal, your dining implements, your clothes, etc. You either inhale the virus or get it on your hands then transmit it to yourself by touching mucous membranes including your mouth, eyes or nose.
- Covid-19 has a fatality rate of less than 2%.
- Most infected people will experience mild to moderate symptoms ranging from cough, fever, runny nose, headache, to shortness of breath.
- The elderly and immune compromised folks are most vulnerable to developing pneumonia, which can lead to death.
- Hand sanitization, and proper mask wearing – especially if symptomatic – can stop the spread, as well as limiting physical contact with others.
Deal With It By Taking Your Power Back, Meaning:
- Focus on what you can control: Building and maintaining your health through diet and exercise; taking reasonable protective measures; getting adequate sleep; avoiding crowds.
- Pay attention to statistics and facts in small doses. Unless you are immune compromised or elderly, it’s highly unlikely that you will become seriously ill or die. Look to reputable sources for scientific information such as the Public Health Agency of Canada, World Health Organization or the Center for Disease Control. Consume a limited amount of news from reliable sources only.
- Maintain Routines if you are temporarily off work. This provides ongoing structure, meaning and a sense of control to your time, which enhances attitude and mood.
- Remember you are a survivor of other winter colds, flues and, possibly, even more serious illnesses or pandemics. Your body – especially if you take care of it – is inherently resilient and has a large capacity to recover and heal.
- Challenge anxiety based beliefs that cause exaggerated, distorted fears with reality. For example, “If I get Covid 19 I might die”. Ask yourself instead, “How much risk am I at considering my baseline health?”. If you are in any way immune compromised then ask “What can I do to fortify my health and immunity further during this time, while maintaining self protective measures?”
All humans experience anxiety daily in small doses – it’s part of the legacy of tens of thousands of years of being in a predator-prey relationship with the world, even if we don’t live this way in modern societies. Don’t do the one thing anxiety wants you to do – Avoid it. Acknowledge anxiety, invite it in, sit with it in a comforting, non-judgemental way, as a supportive witness. Ask the part of you that tends to get anxious or panicky if it is willing to not go to overwhelm, even just a little bit. You will likely discover that anxiety goes down as you approach it with compassion and acceptance, rather than fear.
- Face the very human fear of death, and the reality that we are all going to die, but probably not even if you get Covid-19! Instead, get in touch with your life’s purpose – and what you can do to make that happen more – instead.
Special Considerations for Abuse Survivors:
- Abuse Survivors already have adaptive skills they can tap into having survived the ‘worst’ in their families. These reserves include high levels of inner strength; holding onto big picture perspectives regarding what is most important in life and relationships; an ability to compartmentalize / shut off toxic beliefs / thoughts / other’s behavior; questioning ‘herd’ mentalities, fear mongers and naysayers; staying objective and reality based in the face of chaos; being good in a crisis, etc.
- Manage Sympathetic Nervous System Activation. When we become anxious our sympathetic nervous system becomes over-activated. Our stress hormones – adrenaline and cortisol become amped up, leading to a vicious circle of anxiety. To interrupt and dismantle a stress response, start by practicing slow breathing. That’s the way we breathe when we feel safe, are sleeping, etc. Slow breathing lowers stress hormones to normal in 5 minutes or less, freeing you up to deal more constructively and rationally with your beliefs, thoughts and choices.
- Meditation. Many folks are promoting this, but not really saying why. Meditation teaches you to live in the moment with oneself and the world, without becoming overly attached or invested in the transient nature of life, and our thoughts or worries about that. Meditation teaches compassion towards ourselves and others. It reinforces the maxim that abuse survivors in recovery come to know well: Observe but don’t absorb chaos
- Access online supports such as FaceBook self help groups, etc.
- Community & Giving Back: Appreciate the fact that, if you have good health, by temporary social distancing, you are protecting others who’s health may be more vulnerable than your own. If you know someone who’s ill or vulnerable, ask if you can help them in a practical way, such as picking up groceries, being available by phone, etc. Keep your relationships going online. It’s our relationships that endure and give us sustenance, long after public health scares die down.
- Caring for Our Planet’s Sentient Beings: Covid-19 is a “Zoonotic” virus, meaning it’s spread by animal to human contact, and has its origins in the live kill markets in China. Other zoonotic viruses come from factory farms around the world, where animals are raised and slaughtered under horrific, unhealthy and unsanitary conditions. As more societies move towards plant based diets, for health, safety and compassionate reasons, risks from potentially lethal zoonotic viruses will decrease.
- Remember that life by its very nature is uncertain and transitory. It’s also human nature to be uneasy with that truth. Practice tolerating ambiguity, rather than seeing it as threatening. Focus on accepting that you can’t know or control everything.
- If you are still struggling, consider reaching out to me for video therapy. It’s 100% virus proof and accessible from the safety of your own home.
Photo By JusDeVoyage
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Glynis Sherwood – MEd, Canadian Certified Counselor, Registered Clinical Counselor, specializes in recovery from Family Scapegoating, Narcissistic Abuse, Low Self Esteem, Chronic Anxiety, Estrangement Grief , CPTSD and Relationship Addiction.
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