There are a lot of different opinions about the Coronavirus. Some people are nervous about themselves or someone they love getting the virus. While others are overwhelmed by how disrupted their lives have all of a sudden become. Everyone has to rethink how to work, home school their children, and change their scheduled plans.
Ultimately everyone is in a state of constant readjustment to life, as we now know it, for an uncertain amount of time. As the stock market, gas prices, hand sanitizers, and toilet paper rolls go down, anxiety is steadily going up.
So many questions are circling through everyone’s minds. With schools closed, how will I work? Will my husband’s work survive this virus? Will any of my friends and family become ill? Are people overreacting or is this virus really a dangerous threat? How long will this last? What will happen next?
The questions go on and on.
With sudden life changes, concerns of becoming ill, and so many unanswered questions, it’s easy to see how someone can begin feeling overwhelmed and anxious. Anxiety puts you on high alert while amping up your adrenaline towards more of a fight/ flight/ or freeze response. Anxiety increases stress, and stress decreases your immune system, which makes you more susceptible to illness.
With all the anxiety, unknowns, and life changes, it is helpful to focus on a few things that you can do and have control over. This list is intended to help build the inner strength that you will need to persevere through this time.
Prevent and Prepare
Social distancing seems to be an answer to prevent the spread of germs. Proper hand washing or hand sanitizer use, along with not touching your face, will also decrease your risk of exposure. Immune boosting vitamins help to decrease your risk of contracting this or any other illness. It is also important to help and teach your children to do the same. Make sure your family has the amount of food and medicine that you will need for about 2 weeks. This will help reduce your need to go to the store.
Having a more positive mindset towards this virus situation will help. By looking for the good in others during this hard time, you will find many helpers that rise up and meet the needs of others. From big name athletes giving large donations to help others, people in your local community sharing resources, and a mother lovingly helping her child readjust to the current changes, help is all around us.
This is a great opportunity to pause and really think about how this situation is affecting those around you and take time to think of ways you can be part of helping others though it. Helping others helps to take your mind off of your own present circumstances and allows your mind to focus on the bigger picture. Research shows a positive attitude towards stress will decrease your emotional response to it and can positively affect many areas of your health and well being.
Focus on Truth
Remember the measures people are taking like the NBA, NCAA, TV productions, school closures, and work changes are to keep the virus from spreading. Anxiety can take these moments of change and misinterpret them to mean something different than they were intended to mean. Try choosing a few good quality news sources that focus on truth through facts. Also, limit how much news and social media you take in daily. It’s important to limit news coverage especially around bedtime.
Try to look at this situation differently. Our fast-paced busy lifestyles have all slowed down and are keeping us home more. This social distancing allows us to spend more quality time connecting with our loved ones. In some ways this situation is giving our whole busy world a reset. Take the time to text and call your family and friends, especially those that are older and may be feeling even more overwhelmed by this virus. Connection during a time of social distancing will help provide the balance you need.
Give your brain a break from all the social media and news coverage. Distracting your mind will help reduce overwhelming feelings and will redirect your mind elsewhere. Once your mind has lessened the intense emotions you are feeling, you will better be able to cope with the present situation. Some examples of ways to distract yourself: light-hearted TV shows/ movies, board games, puzzles, crafts, read books, play with your kids, and go for walks.
Take a moment to notice if this present situation is triggering any of your past anxieties or trauma. Could you be feeling more restless because past memories or past feelings of out of control situations are resurfacing? An easy exercise will help you sort out how you are presently feeling. Take a piece of paper and jot down a word to describe each thought and feeling you notice in these moments. After getting out how you are feeling, you should feel a decrease of intense overwhelming feelings.
It’s important to try to find a place of calm through good self-care. In moments of uncertainty it can be very difficult to calm down or to even desire to calm yourself down. However, the calmer you feel the more responsive you will actually be in more stressful situations. Some simple ways to calm down are: deep breathing, warm showers/ baths, art, crafts, journaling, and movement though sports/ exercise/ or walking.
What can we learn from this?
Everyone has different experiences and circumstances in their lives but one thing is for sure, that we are all going through this together. Just remember you are not alone. You are not alone in feeling virus anxiety, in the questions you are wondering, and in the uncertainty you are feeling. We are all in this together, we will get through this, and we will be stronger because of it.
True strength is seen not in the easy times but rather in the hard ones.This strength enables you to rise above situations and persevere through them. The virus pandemic is now a part of our story and so is our strength that we will use to get through it.
About the Author: Erin Young
Erin was born and raised in East Texas and after being gone for 13 years, she moved
back in 2011. She is married and has two amazing kids that are in the middle years
of childhood. Erin has two degrees in Social Work, a Bachelors from The University
of North Texas and a Masters from Temple University. She is a LCSW, a Licensed
Clinical Social Worker. Prior to having children, Erin worked in a variety of counseling settings including foster care and adoption, elementary education, and a children’s hospital. After becoming a mom, Erin stayed at home with her kids until they started school. Erin has always been passionate to help children and families, but after becoming a mom she knew it was her calling. After working for several years in a private counseling practice, she now co-owns a counseling practice in
Tyler, The Bridge Therapeutic Services. Her office bridges Christian counseling and
whole health services together. As a therapist, she works with children, adolescents,
adults, and families. She specializes in the treatment of anxiety, depression, trauma,
PTSD, medical diagnoses related to stress, grief, ADD/ADHD, and adjustment to life
circumstances. She is trained in EMDR, Brain Gym, and she utilizes techniques in Art
and Play Therapy as well. Erin believes in a whole health therapeutic approach,
focusing on the mind, body, and soul. She loves spending time with her husband and
two kids, traveling, doing yoga, having a massage, sipping a warm cup of tea, reading
a good book, and playing with her cute little dog.