EMOTIONALLY DEALING WITH THE THREATS OF CORONAVIRUS
How does a person balance between appropriately dealing with the coronavirus while still not being overwhelmed with worry, stress and anxiety? Admittedly this is a difficult task when people are constantly bombarded by the endless news cycle with messages of the latest gloom and doom story. Attempts at avoiding being glued to the television often fail with people being more and more obsessed with not missing any new piece of information.
As the news becomes repetitive, so does the levels of anxiety. Fear, stress and anxiety are normal initial responses to a perceived threat. Whether the threat is emotional, social or physical, the traditional “flight” or “fight” response is automatically triggered. It is normal to be concerned but people who are generally anxious, can go to an extreme when they can’t fight or flee something they can’t identify.
A lot of the worry, stress and anxiety over the coronavirus is the result of the unknown and not feeling in control in one’s world. Therefore, how does the coronavirus compare with something we do know something about,…..the flu.
According to the Center for Disease Control(CDC), the flu has already caused about 10,000 deaths this season in the U.S. alone, along with an estimated 19 million people becoming ill and180,000 hospitalized. Compare this to coronavirus which as of March 23 has 35,000 known cases and 470 deaths.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, explains this comparison in his report at a White House press conference on Jan. 31. He is quoted as saying;
“Despite the morbidity and mortality with influenza, there’s a certainty … of seasonal flu, I can tell you all, guaranteed, that as we get into March and April, the flu cases are going to go down. You could predict pretty accurately what the range of the mortality is and the hospitalizations [will be]. The issue now with [2019-nCoV] is that there’s a lot of unknowns.”
This is were “the rubber hits the road” With the flu, we know what we are dealing with. With the coronavirus, it is the big unknown that makes room for a vast amount of frightful possibilities.
In general, the CDC recommends the following to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, which include both coronaviruses and flu viruses:
- Drink plenty of water.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands;
- Disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces,
- Avoid close contact with people by staying home whenever possible but don’t isolate yourself.
- If being in contact with other people is unavoidable, be at least six feet away from others.
- Be discerning by getting news only from reliable sources and don’t become absorbed in the coverage for long periods of time.
In addition I would recommend the following;
- When at home, focus on people and things that bring you enjoyment.
- Get outside, weather permitting, in order to help clear your head.
- Call friends, text message and/or facetime whenever possible.
- Become in activities that gets you “out of your head”. Obsessing with negative self talk only reinforcing your not being in control of your world.
- Know that things will get better again. Therefore, use this down time effectively by reevaluating your life and making positive changes.
- Begin to formulate solid plans and goals that will cushion you from any future possible threat.
- Maintain your routines as much as possible.
- Sleep, because it’s good for your immune system. but do not use it as an escape mechanism
- Exercise: It’s calming and may boost your immune functions.
- Watch classic movies on television, as well as comedies.
- When feeling anxious about what may happen, focus instead on breathing slowly, deeply and from your diaphragm and not your lungs. All of these things can prove useful but even more important, they can confer a sense of control when feeling helpless.
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