The coronavirus can cause a lot of anxiety in us. Strengthening our psychological immune system and activating coping strategies are important to manage the mental strain around the epidemic.
The coronavirus now has a direct impact on our daily lives, including our mental health. In this article, I have outlined the psychological challenges we face in a pandemic and how to deal with them.
Treatment of anxiety
The most common emotional and cognitive response to coronavirus is anxiety, which can manifest in physical symptoms such as difficulty in falling asleep, altered appetite and reduced libido. In addition, recurrent negative thoughts, tension, and depression are also typical symptoms. If we are showing signs of anxiety, it is important that we take the necessary steps to maintain our mental health.
In this case, we should pay special attention to activities that help us to cope with stress every day, including sports, social support, a balanced, regular meal, and sufficient rest. Let us not neglect the activities that enable us to experience positive experiences, just adapt them to the situation: for example, instead of having a personal meeting, call our loved ones, go to the gym instead of the gym!
Techniques that help treat anxiety, such as breathing techniques, yoga, autogenous training, relaxation, and meditation, should also be used regularly to keep stress levels down. None of these require you to leave your home – YouTube or specialized mobile apps (like HeadSpace, Calm) are enough.
Framing negative thoughts
Anxiety usually goes hand in hand with irrational thoughts, which can then intensify significantly. Those who are prone to distortions of thought (such as those with depression, anxiety, panic disorder) are particularly at risk, but as a result of the panic and the spread of fearful news, the loss of reality can easily occur. In such cases, framing can be an effective tool in which we try to replace our negative, irrational thoughts with rational thoughts that help us to actively fight, that is, seeking a more realistic framework of interpretation.
Coronavirus thinking distortions and framing:
– Catastrophizing: we consider the most negative predictions to be plausible and the worst to be realistic (eg “everyone will get the virus”). Re-framing: Assessing realistic chances based on facts and statistics (What is most likely to happen? Eg “many catch the virus but most do not get very ill”) and develop active coping strategies (What can I do? Eg ” I avoid mass events, I wash my hands regularly and I do my best to reduce the risks. ”
– Black and white thinking: “if … then …” sentences (eg “if I catch the coronavirus I will be very bad”). Re-framing: look for counterexamples, what’s against it, what’s up against it, and what’s more likely (eg “in many cases, symptoms are mild, barely noticeable”).
– Excessive generalization: We extend the experience of a case to all, generalize based on information (eg, “it is dangerous to leave the house already”). Re-framing: Rationally consider what is being said, what is against it, what the bigger picture is (“if possible, I avoid public transport, but walking in the fresh air is good for you”).
– Negative filter: in one situation only negatives are noticed (eg “quarantine at home is annoying and unnecessary”). Re-framing: Focus on the counter-benefits, the benefits, the potential benefits (eg “quarantine helps to protect others from infection, we have time to do homework”).
Positive distortions do not help us either, as they may cause us to ignore the real danger, to risk-factor, and not to take the necessary precautions. This can have the same dangerous consequences as panic, so it is important to have a realistic view of the situation.
Online counseling or therapy
If our anxiety interferes with our daily lives, please seek the help of a specialist! Do not stop your treatment for ongoing mental problems, there are now many places where online counseling or therapy is available in cases where personal contact is limited or not recommended.
Restore the sense of control
One of the main causes of coronavirus anxiety is that the situation is out of control. It is not known who is infected, what we are, what measures are expected, how long it will last and how it will affect us. However, in this case, we can preserve our capable self and employ active coping strategies.
Preventive strategies: complying with hygiene rules, avoiding contact, staying at home, avoiding public transport. Shop around as planned and consciously as possible so that you have to go to the shop as often as possible during the critical period, thus reducing the risk of spreading the virus. Take precautions, the most important thing is to stop the virus from spreading, to avoid contact with others, which often causes us to put aside our own comfort and needs.
Precautionary measures: rational preparation for expected measures based on the example of the countries concerned, such as quarantine. Don’t panic about everything, but make sure you get food, medicine, toiletries even if you stay home for two weeks.
Information and communication
When we are in an unfamiliar situation, we look for information intensively. Not only the news gets special attention, but also real or fictional cases that show what’s going on, so they can help you fight it. A good example of this is that interest in a 2011 movie, Infection, has soared worldwide in recent weeks, outlining a situation very similar to the current epidemic and currently leading the way in download statistics.
Coronavirus news has also flooded the Internet: Google is now delivering more than 45 million hits on the search for coronavirus, even if we only look at the news, we still have 31 million. We have a lot of information, but it’s harder to filter what’s authentic. Almost every minute something new arrives, and the more we deal with it, the more we think about it, which again is a form of loss of reality and aggravates anxiety.
What can we do to filter information and reduce anxiety?
Find less but credible sources (eg WHO, official information websites).
Let’s read critically, always look at the source, and do not share panic or fake news.
We limit the number of times we consume news a day, for example, we can select morning and evening to look at the pages we choose to be trusted, the news reporter.
If you use social media a lot, you should unsubscribe from news sites that constantly share news about the virus.
For parents and children
Children even less know what to do with this information dumping, and this can cause them a great deal of anxiety without proper processing and discussion. Here are some things to keep in mind when communicating with children:
Children should be provided with information that is reasonably filtered by adults and appropriate to their level, such as not watching the news with their parents or reporting to them immediately everything they read.
Answer their questions and reassure them in all cases, but do not share unwanted and anxious information (such as how many deaths have occurred or how many people have been victims of the disease).
We focus on actively combating, first and foremost, what we do to protect against the virus and what they can do to help maintain a sense of control and a secure worldview.
Also, teach them active defense, including proper hand washing, and behavior on vehicles (pay close attention to what they will catch).
Reassure them that we are safe and that parents will do everything in their power to protect themselves and their families.
We can talk about our feelings, our fears, because that is a matter of credibility, but it is also important to add how we fight it, because it gives us a pattern.
For the sake of our own safety and that of others, many workplaces now choose to implement a home office. What should we keep in mind at this time?
Establishing a Daily Routine: If you miss your work or school routine, create a home routine for yourself and your kids that will help you stay organized and organized.
Here, too, we must work within the confines of work and private life, whether in space (eg, detaching a desk, in the study) or in time (keeping work at home, too).
Maintaining Social Relationships: Talk, chat, video chat with your coworkers and friends, because the workplace is also an important socializing medium and you can quickly feel it when you work from home.
Do not forget to move, if you can, walk in the open air
Official home quarantine
Under the new provision, it is important to distinguish between mandatory home quarantine and voluntary retirement or home office. Official home quarantine is now a must for people coming from epidemic areas, which means we must stay in a (designated) place for 14 days, during which time we cannot leave the apartment. Here are some tips to help you be prepared for this situation and not just see its negatives:
Organize our care, ask for help from our family, friends, and the municipality if necessary.
Writing a “Home Boots List”: What Have You Always Postponed From Home Work? What kind of movies, books did you want to read, what kind of home hobbies did you want to try, maybe learn a language or take an online course? Quarantine, as a forced stay at home, can give space and time for these activities, and once we are prepared, we do not need to panic about being locked in, but can be seen as an opportunity to realize our plans. We can clean, tidy, watch movies, read – there are countless ways to spend your time at home.
Maintaining Social Relationships: It is important that we are able to share our feelings and concerns with those who support us in this situation, and that we can live a social life, so be open to modern communication (for example, video chat or online games with friends). We can communicate with others through social media, through various applications, and the point is, do not isolate yourself even in quarantine!
Health: keep your hygiene at home, eat healthy, try to relax as much as you can, and exercise as much as you can.
If you feel you need help, feel free to contact me!
WHO: Mental Health Considerations during COVID-19 Outbreak