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7 Management Tips To Control Anxiety About Widespread Disease

7 Management Tips To Control Anxiety About Widespread Disease

 

While anxiety may have you anxious all the time, the widespread outbreak of the Coronavirus is probably making it worse! Here's 7 management tips to control your anxious mind about the current pandemic.

Global viruses and diseases.  There’s not a media outlet round the world that’s not reporting about the current circulating Coronavirus.  But with a deadly virus also comes mass panic.  

Many people are now working remotely from home and kids are no longer attending school. 

Stores everywhere are running low on basic necessity items like toilet paper, milk and eggs.

While there is no shame in being prepared, there’s something else that comes with the spread of Coronavirus… An increase in anxiety!

If you’re an anxiety sufferer like myself, you know what I mean. A news report about the chaos of coronavirus will send you into a full-blown panic attack. 

But what can you do about your heightened anxiety?

Here’s the simplest ways to managing your Coronavirus anxiety!

Disclosure: Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you click on them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.

1. Know The Symptoms

To lessen your anxiety you need to gain extensive knowledge about the virus.  This includes knowing the symptoms and how those symptoms differ compared to the common flu.

There is a TON of misinformation floating around the internet right now designed to create extra panic.  You have to weed through the bad information and rely on credible sources.

Although reading the symptoms of a disease or virus generally tends to increase my anxiety…  I’ve found the best way to calm my racing thoughts is by knowing the specific symptoms so I feel better about knowing I don’t have those symptoms.  

One of the best resources for learning symptoms and myths surrounding Coronavirus is the CDC website.

Trust me, I’m not linking to the CDC website to make you more anxious.  You need to know the symptoms without any confusion from the millions of people on social media reporting on it.

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2. Monitor Social Media Use

I understand in the age of social media that many people (myself included) look to websites like Facebook and Twitter to get their daily news instead of reading the morning paper.

However, getting your Coronavirus news information from social media apps is probably the worst thing you can do for your anxiety! 

Not only are you getting critical information about the spread of the virus, but you’re also getting your longtime elementary school friend telling everyone to start stock piling toilet paper and face masks because someone three cities away tested positive for Coronavirus!

You just don’t need that kind of panic right now!  

As you know, with anxiety you panic all the time about almost every little thing in life.  You don’t need other people panic, to in turn panic you more!

But how do you go about managing your social media use?  

The best advice I can give you is to monitor and possibly limit it!  When you’re scrolling through your newsfeed and you begin to feel your anxiety rise because of the panicky negative posts, simply say (out loud) “STOP!”  

Then, exit out of the social media app (I know this can be hard)! Set you phone down on a table and WALK AWAY!  

This allows you time to focus your attention on something else and calm your rising anxiety.  If you continue to have your phone in hand, it’s too much of a temptation to continue viewing social media. 

Your anxiety will only feed off the negative widespread mass panic that’s occurring right now!

3. Prepare… Responsibly!

What does that mean?  It means not going overboard with stockpiling necessities.

I know everyone is doing it, which in turn is spreading more mass panic. 

But ask yourself these questions:

  1. Will I use 20 bottles of hand sanitizer during the outbreak of Coronavirus?
  2. Do I really need a year’s supply of toilet paper?
  3. Will I need 10 boxes of face masks?

I’m all for being prepared!  I’m not saying stop buying hand sanitizer and toilet paper.  You do need them both!

However, buying these items in bulk only leaves a shorter supply for other people.  That’s why we’re currently going through a toilet paper shortage!

It’s healthy to help calm your fears about the virus by preparing with necessity items you need!  Your anxiety will still be managed with only buying two months worth of toilet paper, 2 boxes of face masks and 4 bottles of hand sanitizer.

It’s all about responsibility (preparing yourself and your family in case you contract the virus) and thinking of other people who need those items as well to get through the outbreak.

Being responsibly prepared will also help you feel more in control of a very uncertain future which will decrease your anxiety.

4. Don’t Let Healthy Behaviors Become An Obsession

Wand washing is the best way to ward off the coronavirus.  However, hand washing can be taken to far.

Those with obsessive compulsive disorder are more likely to take hand washing to rid any germs away to an extreme.  While you should be considered with keeping your hands as germ free as possible, hand washing can become an obsessive behavior.

Combine a obsessive behavior like hand washing and the added stress of Coronavirus and you have recipe for disaster!

If you encounter this problem with an increase in obsessive behavior, try to limit your hand washing to appropriate times like after eating, coughing/sneezing, and after using the bathroom.  But obsessive behavior is uncontrollable.

When you feel the behavior escalating try the “anchor code” technique.  Here’s how to do it! 

If you keep washing your hands beyond what needs to be done, simply wash your hands once or twice more then interrupt your repetitive thought by looking at your hands and saying “All clean!”  You can also “Done,” “Success,” or “Complete.”  

An anchor code is simply a word or phrase that stops repetitive thoughts, so use whatever works for you!

5. Don’t Isolate Yourself

Many people having taken to isolating themselves from the outside world in order to decrease their chances of contracting the virus.  In all honesty, it’s a good idea, but it carries a negative outcome with it.

If you decide to shut the rest of the world out you are running the risk of increasing your anxiety.  Research shows loneliness and isolation actually increase stress and anxiety responses.  

Although you may want to limit your contact with people, you still need to reach out to your support system of family and friends.  Chances are your family and friends are also feeling panicked and stress about the spread of Coronavirus.  They need you just as much as you need them!

Reach out to those closest to you with a phone call or even a get together for coffee and a walk in the park.  You can still see other people during this time as long as they are not showing symptoms of the virus or you’re not around a large crowd of people.

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6. Challenge Your Anxious Thoughts

Anxiety feeds off of the uncertainties in life!  If we knew the outcome of every event in our lives, anxiety and worry would be a thing of the past.

With the massive amount of social media coverage it’s easy for your anxious thoughts to become out of control.  Every “what if” scenario related to Coronavirus has probably already been thought up in your mind.  

While you can’t always silence that inner voice asking the “what if” questions, you can challenge that anxious thought pattern!  

You can do this by writing down every “what if” scenario you can think of on paper.  Although this may cause a temporary influx of anxiety, writing those thoughts on paper may have a positive effect on your anxiety by…

  • Allowing you to visually see how irrational the “what if” scenario’s are
  • Gives you a chance to really analyze and challenge each scenario to possibly be better prepared for the outcome

Although you can’t prepare for every outcome by obsessing over it, you can journal your thoughts to work through the uncertainties.

Plus, once you take pen to paper your anxiety may immediately be relieved because you’re able to take those negative thoughts and get them out of your head!  

7. Prioritize Your Own Self-Care

I’m not talking about self-care related to stopping the spread of germs like covering your cough and washing your hands.  I’m talking about self-care like…

  • Brushing your hair
  • Brushing your teeth
  • Taking a shower
  • Taking a break from work related stress
  • Exercising
  • Meditating
  • Stretching
  • Eating right

And much more!  Let me ask you this- Have you ever experienced so much anxiety that you couldn’t take care of yourself?

I have!  I remember many times actually where I was in such a negative space from anxiety that I stopped showing for days.  Or I couldn’t bring myself to exercise and eat right because I couldn’t calm my anxiety enough to focus my attention on critical self-care to in turn lessen the anxiety.  

When your thoughts are always negative and racing a hundred miles an hour you tend to forget about the little things like self-care.

Whether the Coronavirus has forced you to work from home or your separating yourself from others out of fear and panic, self-care should never be neglected.  If you find yourself struggling to complete simple self-care tasks, challenge yourself to complete on new self-care task a day.

For instance:

  • If you’re finding it hard to take a shower, then try a relaxing bubble bath instead! 
  • Instead of trying to complete a cardio workout, try light stretching with meditation for 20 minutes
  • Opt for a home cooked meal instead of a frozen TV dinner

While it might not see like a big deal, positive little changes applied to your self-care routine will do wonders for relieving your anxiety during such a stressful time.

Conclusion

If you’re an anxiety sufferer, you were already on edge before Coronavirus hit the United States.  But this virus is giving anxiety to everyone (even those who never experienced anxiety before).  

I should know because I am one of these people feeling extra anxious about the uncertainties in life that come with Coronavirus.  

I went to the grocery store recently and experienced an all out panic attack that included the works of choking back tears and hyperventilating.  Why?  Well there’s a couple of reasons a post-Coronavirus grocery store would cause a panic attack…

  1. Everything was in chaos (items were not put where they belong)
  2. Shelves were bare making it look like the apocalypse was coming and that’s what everyone was prepping for
  3. Too many people were breathing in my vicinity 

Yes, it probably sounds a little weird, but the store was in complete disarray.  Like everyone ran to the store to buy what they needed and then randomly placed items back on the shelves that they didn’t need.  Personally, I thrive on order.

I like seeing grocery store shelves with labels out and stacked neatly!

Second, I don’t like people getting too close to me in the first place.  But then you add the mass panic of the Coronavirus and I’m even more on edge.  

Third, the store had whole aisles of merchandise missing!  This made me feel like maybe everyone else knew something I didn’t and this is truly the end of time!  

All three of these reasons sent my anxiety into complete panic mode.  I got everything I needed as fast as I could and got out of there.  By the time I got home I vowed to my husband that I was only doing grocery pickup from now on or I’d be sending him with a list to go shopping.

For me, it is self-care for my mental health NOT to go grocery shopping right now!  

Although there’s a ton of uncertainty with the virus right now, there are ways to manage your anxiety about it.  Give these 7 management tips a try to control Coronavirus anxiety today!

 

Works Cited

What are the effects of loneliness on severe mental health?

How to stop mild obsessive-compulsive behavior

How to survive coronavirus anxiety

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