As coronavirus infiltrates our communities, it’s common to feel worry, sadness, or even panic. Uncertain times are a breeding ground for anxiety. However, it’s possible for us to be anxious and to continue to be effective, doing what needs to be done and operating according to our values.
- Stay informed, but not too informed: As they say in DBT, walk the “middle path” regarding your access to news/information. There’s a diminishing return to acquiring information. While some information is crucial, it’s easy to be consumed (to our emotional detriment) with following news updates. Regulate your intake of information by updating daily (or even a couple of times a day) for a few minutes at a time. Leave it at that.
- Focus on the present: Focus on being effective in the moment, rather than future-tripping around what could be. Yes, it can be helpful to plan, but do so with information that is available to you now, rather than speculation. Too much of a focus on what could be can interfere with your presence and effectiveness now.
- Keep structure and routine where possible: Humans respond well to structure. Especially when things are uncertain, adhering to routine can keep us grounded and feeling stable. For those who have had a shift in their circumstances (e.g., are newly working from home), it might be helpful to chunk your work, breaks, and social time into a predictable routine.
- Present a safe space for your children: Offer them rational, digestible facts. Remind them that your job is to keep them safe during coronavirus and in general. For more tips on parenting in the wake of coronavirus, check out this blog.
- Keep pursuing joy, pleasure, and peace. Engage in activities that bring you positive emotions. Most of us can still enjoy a comedy, spend time outdoors, listen to music, and have contact with loved ones. The stress of the virus can lead to significant emotional challenges. It’s important to counter all of the worry and dread by accumulating positive experiences and by pursuing our values, both of which can steady us.
- Engage in calming behavior: What typically works for you to calm or soothe yourself? Whether it’s physical activity, being in nature, playing an instrument, or distracting with online content, do what you can to modulate your anxiety.
- Stay connected. The beauty of our high-tech lives is that we’re able to be connected with one another, from minute to minute, all around the world. Take advantage of social media, texting, and voice calls as we practice social distancing. Human connection improves our immune functioning and overall well-being. We don’t need to be in physical contact with someone in order to be emotionally connected. We can support one another from afar.
- Recognize the shared experience and humanity in this pandemic. All around the world, individuals are struggling with coronavirus. While we often think of ourselves and our individual orbits, an event like this reminds us of our shared humanity. We are all in this together. Hopefully, we can use this time to demonstrate holding of our fellow human beings – and support of and compassion toward those more critically in need.
- Cut yourself some slack: This isn’t a time to be judging or criticizing yourself. Whether you’re less patient or productive, are experiencing a return or increase of symptoms, or are having control reining in your anxiety, give yourself a break. You’re doing the best your can.
- Get help: If you’re not already in therapy and are struggling as a result of coronavirus, find someone who can see you online. A number of therapists are equipped to work with you remotely, even if other avenues to help are put on pause. For those missing or lacking social contact or connection, online group therapy can be a helpful modality to provide you much-needed interpersonal support.
Learn about online therapy with Gatewell Therapy Center: https://gatewelltherapycenter.