As we all grapple with the fears brought on by the spread of the coronavirus, it is only natural to feel anxious for yourself and your loved ones, especially those who are older. And yet, anxiety brings with it a litany of other issues that can impact your health and emotional wellbeing. What to do? How to stem the emotional roller coaster?
First all, it is imperative that you adhere to the health and safety guidelines of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control). As you know, it is important to avoid gatherings and crowds, practice 6’ social distancing, wash hands regularly (20 seconds) and avoid touching your face. But equally important is to understand your anxiety and find healthy ways to work through it to restore as much calm and normality to your life as possible.
The Washington Post recently interviewed several mental health experts regarding the high levels of anxiety being experienced by all of us due to the coronavirus. They had some solid advice to share with those who are feeling especially anxious during these trying times. Here are some of their suggestions (as well as ours):
1). Take care of your physical self. That means stay hydrated, eat healthy and regularly, exercise and get a good night’s sleep. When we take care of our body, with good sleep in particular, but certainly food and water, our ability to think clearly, our ability to solve problems, our ability to manage our emotions, all are optimized.
2). Stay informed, but limit your time spent pouring over media updates. Really try to limit the news consumption or just staring at your phone or computer, because for most of us that makes mental health worse rather than better.
3). Develop a plan for how to deal with this period of time. Having conversations with your family about what they can do to protect themselves and also what they can do to stay active, physically and socially, can be therapeutic in and of itself.
4). Reach out to others in need. While this may not be possible to do physically, it might be a great time to re-engage with your phone. Talking with loved ones who may be stressed out and reassuring them that they will get through it, can help you reinforce that to yourself as well. In your own community there may be ways to help the elderly get the groceries and medications they need. Helping where and when you can not only helps them, but gives you a sense of purpose and control.
5). Remember you are not alone. Everyone is affected. That is why coming together as a community to experience a common purpose is so important, even when we cannot physically do so. Understanding and reminding ourselves that we’re all going through something together, sometimes can help us feel less alone.