Managing Anxiety in the Time of the Coronavirus Pandemic
Updated: Apr 1, 2020
Many of us experience a range of emotions in a time of uncertainty, such as anxiety and fear, powerlessness or depression. It's been over two weeks since Switzerland declared a state of emergency and introduced restrictive measures that drastically changed our way of life. You might be worried about your health and that of your loved ones at risk. You might be concerned about losing income, or you might be a parent who is overwhelmed as you juggle working at home with taking care of children. Not knowing what's going to happen or how long this situation is going to last can leave us feeling anxious and helpless. This is all normal! Here are a few things that help me stay calm and grounded while Geneva is under partial lockdown.
Limit the news/media about the COVID-19
No matter where we look, we are bombarded by the news of the COVID-19 pandemic. To prevent ourselves from getting overwhelmed, we can consciously limit our media exposure. Set limits to a few reliable sources of information such as WHO or CDC, and check only once or twice a day if possible.
Remember to take a moment throughout the day to notice what you are experiencing inside. You might notice that you are having tension, sadness, racing thoughts, shallow breaths, irritation, etc. You can turn to whatever is there, and see what it might need. For instance, you might touch upon sadness. This sadness might want to talk to someone you trust, or might need to be expressed by journaling. Or you might notice the tension in your body, and it might need calming down by going for a walk around the block. If your experience is intense and overwhelming, consult a professional. A lot of therapists including myself are offering Skype sessions. Remember self-compassion as you notice your inner experience.
Mobilize your energy
You might feel powerless or helpless when so much is out of your control. Mobilization can help you get out of the feeling of helplessness. It is important to stay focused on doing what you CAN do. What can you do to mobilize your energy? It could be dancing to your favorite music or going for a run. Engaging in physical activities helps you feel strong and empowered. You could reach out and check on your neighbors at risk while keeping the social distancing in mind. Or you might try something new that you could do at home, like growing vegetables, cooking, learning to do yoga, etc.
Stay connected with your fellow human beings
Someone said it should be called “physical distancing” instead of “social distancing.” We can stay socially connected. It is so important for us humans to feel connected and supported especially in a difficult time like this. We can stay in touch with others online or on the phone. Perhaps it is a good time to write to that someone who you were close to, but hadn't kept in touch with, as you got consumed by a busy life.
I would like to end with a quote that resonates with me:
You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going.
What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith, and hope.