It’s almost impossible to do anything right now without hearing the word “coronavirus.” The developing panic is real, especially when the only news being disseminated seems to be coronavirus news. And for people who already struggle with anxiety disorders, the daily reminders and updates about coronavirus sweeping the globe are only adding insult to injury.
And given its newness, there are constant updates about the virus in the news—something that can make it feel extra threatening, is that it is also invisible, which frightens people more than apparent things. If you don’t know where and how you may get it, then it feels even less in your control.
Of course, that anxiety surrounding the coronavirus outbreak is understandable, but you can sure control how you react to it while keeping yourself as safe as possible. Here are a few things you can do to keep your anxiety in check during the coronavirus outbreak.
Assess your risk for contracting the coronavirus.
You can take a proactive role in your health (and anxiety levels) by figuring out your risk for developing coronavirus. That means determining whether there have been confirmed or likely positive cases of the virus in your community, whether you’ve been exposed to anyone who’s been ill recently, and whether you have immune issues or breathing problems that could put you at risk of complications if you were to contract the virus. These steps aren’t to make you even more anxious, but rather, give you a sense of control over your health and awareness to the illness.
Try to limit your coronavirus news consumption.
It’s true: You should at least be aware that coronavirus is currently an issue, and know where it’s showing up concerning you. However, there is such a thing as too much news, and continually reading coronavirus update stories isn’t going to help your anxiety levels.
Try to limit your overall news intake to once every day or so if you find yourself triggered by news, and limit your attention to only reputable news sources. As far as keeping track of possible outbreaks in your region goes, stick to your trusted local news stations or newspapers, which are likely getting all of their information from other reputable sources.
Follow the correct preventive methods to protect against the coronavirus.
It is recommended that people do the following to help prevent the spread of coronavirus and other respiratory viruses:
- Try to avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Try to avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. (If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.)
Doing all of those things can help you feel more in control of the situation, Yeager says, which can help ease your anxiety.
Tell yourself that you’re doing the best you can in this situation.
If you find yourself starting to get worked up over the virus in any given moment, look around you, recognizing when you’re in a safe space, like your home, and reminding yourself that you’re doing the best you can.
If despite trying these tips to help reduce your coronavirus anxiety, you still feel overwhelmed with stress or that your coronavirus fears are interfering with your ability to go about your daily life, try visiting a mental health professional.