As the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues its global spread and the number of cases continues to increase, anxiety related to the outbreak is also on the rise. Although feeling anxiety in response to a threat is a normal human reaction, sustained high anxiety can worsen things.
Jesus said to his apostles, “Peace be with you” (John 20:21). God brings peace into our souls; we just have to let him.
Let’s forget about the coronavirus for a few minutes and try to lower the level of stress accumulated during these past few days. The following suggestions can help you deal with coronavirus anxiety and calm yourself.
Connect with your loved ones
Connect with friends and loved ones through video chats, phone calls, texting, and email. It really helps to feel the strength of your connections to your friends and loved ones, even though you may not be with them in person.
Limit social media and news exposure
Anxiety can build from media exposure. Avoid updates that could be feeding your coronavirus anxiety. Pick one or two trusted sources that you’re going to rely on, and check for updates only twice a day. Make sure you make those checks brief. A friend post on social media, which may not even be accurate, can increase your anxiety, and anxiety can essentially be contagious.
Stick with sources of credible medical information, so you can avoid misinformation about the virus and the illness it causes.
Don’t underestimate yourself
Many people fear how they will manage if the virus shows up at home, work or at school. They worry how they would cope with a quarantine, a daycare closure or a lost paycheck. Human minds are good at predicting the worst. However, research shows that people tend to overestimate how badly they’ll be affected by negative events and underestimate how well they’ll cope with and adjust to difficult situations.
Focus on controlling only what you can
Stop trying to control things that are not in your hands. We cannot control how widely the coronavirus outbreak will spread, if our child’s school will close or if an important event will get cancelled. Experts advise people to instead focus in the simple things we can control. These things include taking precautions like washing our hands, staying home when we are sick, and avoiding group gatherings, especially if we have health issues or our immune system is compromised.
Engaging in a simple five-minute deep breathing session a few times a day can make a difference. You may have been told in the past to “take a few deep breaths” when you were feeling worried or upset about something. This can be helpful to just slow down and cool off. Breathing deeply can help us manage the anxiety response on a physical, physiological and mental level. It is recommended that people with anxiety practice deliberate breathing for about 3 to 5 minutes during each session at least three times a day. If you’re unsure how to proceed with this, google some techniques.
Of course, exercise! If you feel anxious take time to go for a walk or run. The key is to find activities to calm your mind. Find a nice view of some trees or mountains and enjoy a run or even practice your breathing session there.
Pray and hope
Last but not least, remember that God is the one guiding history and we must place our care and anxiety in his hands. He wants to bring his peace into our hearts. And, as we know, prayer is not a simple act of relaxation, but an encounter with a person, with God himself. At the end of the day, he is the source of our joy and being in communion with him is our greatest good.