Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome, a strong desire or concern to do something or for some as surety of what is to happen. Anxiety is not always a bad thing, in fact it can motivate you and help you to stay focused under pressure -when worries and pain attack. A problem develops when these worries start to get in the way of your life, and life’s function, that anxiety becomes a disorder.
The number one problem that I deal with as a counselor is anxiety. For some it has fallen into a disorder, for others it’s a part of a normal response to circumstances of everyday life, for as a rule anxiety is quite normal. My favorite coping tool that I share with people is: do not worry and take on responsibility for what is past, what has already happened is not a part of you; you make a choice not to go back there in your thinking, in your mind. Some people act in a paranoid fashion based on a pain from the past that they are relating to a present situation, not healthy, what we are living is new, has nothing to do with anything in your past. (I realize that sometimes the past comes to haunt us, but as I said you choose not to go there.) Also , I encourage people to not try to jump too far into the future, you have no idea what tomorrow will bring, and furthermore , stressing about something that you have no control over is a waste of your time and it will not reduce your anxiety. Stay in the here and now- describe your every moment if it may help you to ground yourself more.
All of us worldwide, are currently facing circumstances of life that has the likelihood of pushing every one of our buttons, causing all of us to be concerned for the future. I have borrowed from some writings of Dr. Asim Shah from the Behavioral College of Medicine (bcm.edu) to assist people who may be having a problem balancing anxiety conditions, with anxiety during a global pandemic.
How do we cope with stress and anxiety during the corona virus pandemic?
There are 3 groups of people who are more vulnerable in a time like this:
- People with mental health and substance abuse issues.
- First responders, physicians and nurses, respiratory therapists etc).
- I am adding this to this particular virus , the elderly or those compromised physically.
People who suffer already from anxiety , should debrief and distance themselves -to relieve stress from constant news coverage. Hearing the information continually will cause more anxiety, so spend more time with family, those who have no one make a choice to busy yourself with something like a craft or an art, or writing. Those sensitive to the news coverage, should make sure that they are getting their news from trusted sources and limit watching the news once or twice a day.
Quarantine and social distancing
For those worried about social distancing and isolation, remember you can socialize online, on the phone. It’s important to talk to someone during these stressful times, you don ‘t have to be face to face , I am adding this, be careful that the friends you choose to speak with are not prone to anxiety and imbalance as a result of their own worries. This will increase the stress about what is going on . Dr. Shah said think about the worse case scenario and remind yourself you are in a better situation staying home in a safe place. Back to the “NOW” or grounding that I mentioned earlier, I am ok right now.
Talk to the Children
If parents are panicking, hoarding and stressing, children will panic as well. Parents are role models, so portray information in a calm manner so your kids will stay calm. Talk about the pandemic with your children and discuss based on their ages.
–ages 5 and under: teach them how to wash their hands effectively. make it fun activity and hopefully they will make it a habit. At that age the effort will surely be policed.
–ages 6-12 inform these children more about the severity of the disease, and that it may result in mortality (death) and emphasize the importance of constantly taking care of themselves. Tell them if they do not take care of themselves, by washing hands and avoid touching their faces, they too can be infected, which may cause hospitalization and the risk of spreading it to others.
–ages 12 and older Basically the same as the one above only this age may be informed more about the disease, how they would be at risk of mortality, and the importance of taking care of themselves as we described above.
Grocery Store Panic
Shah urges people not to make panic larger than the pandemic. People who are buying food in bulk are looking at part of the problem, but not the whole scenario, it’s a ripple effect. If we calm down on stockpiling, things will be better. Shah said. The stores should have a limit of what you can buy. Everyone needs some stuff, but if we stock up, it will increase the panic for others who can not purchase what they need.
Most importantly, take precautions, wash your hands, and stay home if you can. Remember to avoid negativity if you are sensitive to information related to this pandemic. This is the end of Dr. Asim Shah’s write up, I added a few things here and there and of course I started the blog entry til his information was introduced. Stay safe everyone, remember to also stay in the now and positive as you are alert to what is happening .
I am standing on my faith in God , and His mercy that this will end , and that the virus will stop in its tracks, in Jesus name!! (My words only)