How to Cope with Coronavirus Anxiety and Stay Calm

Do you feel anxious about coronavirus? You’re not alone.

The current coronavirus outbreak is triggering increased anxiety. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions that are frustrating and even affect your daily life. I know this feeling very well because I live in Hong Kong.

I experienced the oubreak of SARS in Hong Kong in 2003. I was still studying in high school during that time. I had classmates being put into quarantine, and one of my friends’ parents died because of the disease… I had to stop going to school and stay at home most of the time. Whenever we went out, we had to wear a face mask. It was a difficult time. Every morning when I woke up and turned on the TV, the news would report more new confirmed cases of SARS in Hong Kong. I felt helpless and was worried that life would be like that forever…

Fortunately after around 4 months, a cure was found for SARS and things started to get under control and we were free from face masks again.

What most people don’t realize is the impact SARS had on us Hong Kongers. We’ve become a lot more aware of self-hygiene but the bad thing is, many have unconsioucsly become anxious germaphobes, feeling obligated to clean everything everywhere.

Fast forward to 2020, we’re coping with a new type of peumonia Coronavirus. Hong Kongers’ anxiety for the disease somehow helps to keep the situation under control at the moment. Of course, that doesn’t mean we’re all mentally healthy and have no fear for coronavirus. I still worry if I have infected coronavirus when I’m feeling tired or a little bit under the weather. Very often, my worries will increase my anxiety and get me a panic attack suddenly. (If you’ve been following my blog, you’d know that I’ve been dealing with my anxiety and panic attack for a while.)

If you’re experiencing any of these anxiety symptoms, it’s time to take better care of your mental health:

– Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones

– Changes in sleep or eating patterns

– Difficulty sleeping or concentrating

– Worsening of chronic health problems

– Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

Manage Anxiety and Stress, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Do you know that your mental health can affect your physical health too? If you’re worrying about this and that all the time, you could weaken your immunity and make you prone to getting infected.

How you respond to stress is essential to your mental health. If you want to calm your hectic mind and stop worrying too much, here’re some quick tips for you.

1. Limit Your Time on Social Media

The heavy media coverage on coronavirus will only increase your anxiety.

I’d actually recommend getting a social media detox and quit reading news and scrolling your social media for a few days or a week, until your mind is less tensed.

But if you must read the news so as to keep updated of what’s happening around, limit your time on social media every day. Spending around 30 minutes a day on social media should be quite enough for you to go through the esssential news and information.

Don’t use the social media right after waking up in the morning because the news will affect your mood for the rest of the day. You need to start your day feeling positive and energetic!

Also, don’t use the social media before going to sleep. The negative news can also trigger your emotions and make you hard to sleep or affect your sleep quality.

2. Meditate (Or Breathe Deeply)

Meditation offers a lot of benefits. It can reduce stress, control anxiety, promote emotional health, enhance focus and improve your sleep. What’s even better is that it’s easy to begin with.

In my other article 30-Day Meditation Challenge for Beginners, I talked about the easy steps to start meditating. All you need to do is to find a comfortabe corner, sit down and start to breathe slowly and deeply.

At first, you may feel the urge to stop taking deep breaths because you’re not used to the stillness, and different thoughts just rise in your mind uncontrolably. Just tell yourself that it’s okay what’s happening in your mind. Focus on your breathing continuously and practice deep breathing regularly. Soon you will feel less stressed.

3. Exercise

Exercise can improve your mood, increase your energy levels and keep you physically healthy.

I heard people complaining that now since they’re stuck at home, they’re becoming less active, eating more unhealthy snacks and gaining more weight.

Yes, most of us are forced to stay at home but no, we’re not forced to live a more unhealthy lifestyle.

If you can’t go out to exercise, do simple workouts at home or even just stretch your body a bit.

And even if you’re stuck at home, that doesn’t give you excuses to eat unhealthy. You can still make nutritious meals and eat healthy fruits to keep yourself strong and healthy.

4. Call Your Friends and Loved Ones

Human beings are social animals. During this difficult time, we all need a solid support system to connect to each other. According to studies, being in supportive relationships makes us feel more secured and happier.

These days, we may not be able to see our friends or loved ones in person but we can still call them, or even face time them. It is time to show how much you care about each other and miss each other. Send each other pictures of your daily life and give each other support and encouragement to make getting through this tough time easier.

5. Do Something Productive

No, I don’t mean your work. What I mean is something other than work that can help clear your mind a bit and make your time spent more meaningful. For example, I have a friend who’s now spending more time at home and planting a garden with her family at their own backyard.

Even if you don’t have a backyard or big home, you can still do a lot of things that make your time more productive. Think about the things you do during your leisure time. It could be reading a book, playing a musical instrument, playing chess with your partner, or simply spending some quality time with your kids.

Final Thoughts

No one knows how long this coronavirus may last, what we do know is that we have control on how we want to deal with it. We can be panic and anxious all the time, making our daily lives harder; or we can deal with our stress wisely and take better care of ourselves while preventing the disease from spreading out further.

Featured image credit: Portuguese Gravity via Unsplash

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