Anxiety in the Face of the Coronavirus

Anxiety in the Face of the Coronavirus

These are uncertain times, and with uncertainty breeds anxiety. Our country is facing a virus that is still so unknown and is spreading so quickly that it is requiring us to practice social distancing and self-quarantine.

  • There are no answers
  • There are no guarantees
  • There is no normal

But there is hope.

The crazy thing about hope is that it does not discriminate. It shows up in the face of fear, anxiety, question and disaster. It shows up in the faces of our nation

  • We see those who are able helping those who are less able.
  • Through a baby’s laughter, reminding us that there is always joy to be found.
  • Medical workers putting in endless hours in potentially contaminated conditions just so the rest of us can remain healthy.
  • Teachers and school staff doing everything that they can to make sure that their students still have access to education.

Hope is a gift.

It’s time to unwrap it.

You may find that there are times when you cannot see the hope amidst all the chaos.

That’s okay.

You may feel so burdened down by trying to work from home while still monitoring your child’s school.

That’s okay.

You may be worried about the security of your job and find yourself wondering how you will support your family.

That’s okay.

All of your feelings are okay. All of your feelings are valid. All of us have these feelings.

I want to take this time to provide hope in the only way that I know how through giving you some tools to help with the anxiety that you may be feeling.

Ten Ways to Reduce Anxiety in Times of Uncertainty (+1)

1. Practice mindfulness. Being in the unknown can entice panic with thoughts of “what if.” Anxiety lives in the past and the future, it does not have a place in the present.
2. Avoid catastrophizing. Uncertainty causes anxiety to increase, which can feed worst-case scenario thinking. Before we know it, we are finding evidence to support our catastrophic thoughts. Counter this by using fact-based reasoning.
3.. Focus on what you can control. You can control your hygiene, where you choose to go, the news you choose to listen to, how you choose to live your life.
4.. Get enough sleep. When we have anxiety, our brain tells us that we need to be on high alert. This can affect our sleep quality. When we don’t get enough sleep, it increases our cortisol levels, which increases our stress response. Lack of sleep also decreases our immunity.
5. Reduce caffeine. Caffeine turns up the stress response.
6. Practice gratitude. Look for things to be thankful for. Maybe you have more time with your children, more time to work on that project you have been meaning to start. Do something that makes you happy every day.
7. Live in the “AND.” Know that this virus can exist AND you can still live a meaningful life. These two opposite things can co-exist.
8. Unhook your thoughts. Insert the phrase “I’m having the thought” before your statement. This will ease the extremes of the situation. For example, instead of saying “this is the worst,” say “I’m having the thought that this is the worst.”
9. Limit your screen time. It is easy to be hooked to news networks in times like these, but doing this keeps the anxiety alive. Get the necessary information from a reliable source and then turn off the news. 30 minutes is more than enough time.
10. Separate probability from possibility. Yes, it is possible that you will get the virus, but you can reduce your probability by practicing clean hygiene, limiting bodily contact and taking precautions.
11. Practice grounding techniques. When anxiety gets out of control, bring yourself back to the present by noticing 3 things you can hear, see and touch. This forces your brain to be in the present moment. And if that doesn’t work, go get some ice and hold it in your hand. This will help to defuse anxiety. It is hard to think about anything else when you are holding a freezing cold ice cube.
Anxiety is fear. It is normal to be afraid. When you find yourself getting stuck in fear, use one, two or all of these suggestions to help to get you to a place of hope.
Until next time,
Take care of yourself and each other.
Monica Fugedi
Wellness Counselor


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