In the middle of a worldwide pandemic, where cities and even entire countries are locking down, humanity finds themselves in uncertain times. The outbreak of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is causing stress and concern for most people. Some are in areas that have already been affected, and others are bracing for what may come. And all of us are watching the headlines and may wonder, “What is going to happen next?”

It’s a frightening time.

In the midst of all this, we ask ourselves, “What can we do to manage our anxiety and fears?” It is also important to remember that there is a difference between WORRY and ANXIETY. Worry and anxiety can both make you pretty miserable, but they are two separate psychological states occurring in different parts of your brain. It is possible to have worries without anxiety and anxiety without worries. However, one often triggers the other, and they, unfortunately, tend to go hand-in-hand. Worrying is thinking about a potential problem, and anxiety is feeling it in your body.

The following are important ideas to remember to assist you in this difficult time;

Stay informed

It is important to stay informed during these troubled times and especially with priority to what’s happening in your community. It is essential to stick to trustworthy sources and your local public health authorities.

Do not fuel your anxiety

Avoid fueling your anxiety by over-monitoring news and social media feeds. Limiting time frames is one example to reduce anxiety. Or ask someone you trust to pass along any major updates you need to know about.

Know what to focus on

Questions with unknown answers and circumstances outside our control will leave us feeling ‘overwhelmed’ and anxious. We should do our best to change focus to things that you can control. We realise that we can’t control the severity of the virus in our city or environment, but we can focus on steps to reduce risk.

Stay connected

Through all the above, it is important to stay connected. Our natural urge is to connect with others. Isolation often creates loneliness with the tendency to experience anxiety and depression. Don’t let the coronavirus dominate every conversation. Simplify and enjoy company. Laugh a lot, tell people what is going on in your life. Avoid anxious and fearful conversations and thoughts.

Be wise about who you turn to for support

The coronavirus is not the only contagious thing. So are emotions! Avoid talking to negative people. Avoid talking to people who reinforce and ramp up your fears. Rather talk to people who are thoughtful, level-headed, and who are good listeners.

Remember, we are in a difficult time. Through this all, maintain the basic stress management strategies. (e.g. eat healthy meals, get plenty of sleep). Adapt a personal strategy such as;

  • Take a break from the news and social media.
  • Engage in self-care.
  • Get some exercise.
  • Reconnect.
  • Remind yourself of the facts.
  • Breathe through your belly.
  • Talk to a professional.

We feel better if we help others to feel better. If you know of someone or families in your community, who are isolated, elderly, or disabled, offer support. Maybe they just need to hear a friendly, reassuring voice over the phone.

Infectious diseases do not favour any age, racial or ethnic group. With a positive outlook and intention, we can all ensure that kindness and charity spread throughout our communities even faster than this virus.

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Content submitted by the ER24 Trauma Support Team.