The spread of coronavirus worries the whole world. And the sensational headlines that sow panic, hypotheses and false information only add fuel to the fire.
“When the number of infected people grows, and the media intensely draws attention to the virus, it is very easy to panic. Especially if you or a loved one has a weakened immune system, ”said Diana Gall, a consultant for the online service Doctor-4-U. “Anxiety about health can flood your whole life, and fear of coming into contact with the virus will prevent you from doing everyday things.”
To avoid this, follow a few simple rules.
1. Get news from reliable sources
The media has a lot of bloated and simply inaccurate information, the reading of which feeds alarm. “I think the most useful thing that can be done at the moment is to read verified sources of information, for example, the WHO website , ” said psychologist Baruch Fischhoff in an interview with the American Psychological Association.
This will also protect against various gossip and people who use the situation to sell something or incite racial and ethnic hatred.
2. Sit less on social networks
“Social networks and news sites add to the concern. And for those who are already suffering from anxiety, they can be especially dangerous, ”says psychologist Elena Touroni, founder of the My Online Therapy psychological counseling service. “To admit that something is hurting you, and to take action against it is to take care of yourself.”
Unsubscribe from those who post alarmist statements and false data.
Consider this information as useless background noise. And the time has come to turn down the sound. If you need social networks to find out about friends in the affected areas, carefully monitor how much time you spend there. And note if this is harmful to your condition.
3. Disable push notifications
News sites often write about an event several times, adding details and comments to the article. So one confirmed case of the disease, described many times in several sources, can create the feeling that the situation is worse than it is. To prevent panic, turn off all notifications
4. Check for catastrophic thinking
In extreme circumstances, it is easy to become a victim of catastrophy, a cognitive distortion that makes the situation seem much worse than it is. Therefore, it is important to monitor your thoughts and stop yourself in time. “When you notice that you are considering scary scenarios, tell yourself that these are just thoughts,” Turoni advises. “This is such a brain reaction to your emotional state.”
“In order not to fall into black and white thinking , notice the thoughts caused by fear and remember the positive facts,” says Nadia James, the founder of the Kinde social network for people with anxiety and depression. “For example, if you are not an elderly person and you do not have any background diseases, then the risk of having a hard to carry coronavirus is low.”
Fact-check your thoughts, follow the recommended hygiene rules and try to maintain your usual routine of life.
Psychotherapist Stephanie Healey also suggests using cognitive-behavioral therapy. For example, to understand the essence of the problem (anxiety), break it into smaller parts. Think about different scenarios to see what scares you. And then develop an action plan.
5. Avoid unnecessary talk about the threat.
Seeking support and discussing problems with family, friends and colleagues is completely natural. But if the conversation goes on and on for discussion of fears and catastrophic scenarios, it’s better to transfer it to another topic. Otherwise, anxiety and discomfort will only increase.
6. Notice the difference between useful and harmful anxiety.
In order not to get sick, it is important to monitor not only the physical, but also the mental state. Oversensitiveness often does not protect, but harms, and stress weakens. the immune system.
Excessive anxiety can make you more vulnerable. Remind yourself of this.
“Useful anxiety is a reasonable level of anxiety that encourages us to take reasonable precautions,” explained psychologist Rachel Allan. – Harmful – constant thought about threats and worst-case scenarios. It provokes a feeling of helplessness and panic. It’s useful to monitor your physical condition, find out the news and follow the rules of hygiene, but if you focus on these actions, stress and anxiety will only grow. ”
7. Try to meditate.
“Meditation helps to notice our thoughts and feelings, to see how we bind in them and how it harms us,” continues Elena Turoni. Try to meditate at least 10 minutes a day. For example, with the Headspace or Calm application .
If meditation is not suitable for you, do breathing exercises . “When you’re anxious, place one palm on your stomach and take a deep breath through your nose,” advises stress reduction consultant Palma Michel. – The breath should be as deep as possible. Then exhale as slowly as possible, deliberately slowing down the process. Repeat several times. Then, as you inhale, count to three, and as you exhale, count to six. Continue to breathe in such a rhythm for 3-5 minutes. Slow exhalation relaxes the body and soothes the nervous system. ”
The world is now full of suspense. Focus on what is known and what you yourself can control.
Keep in touch with loved ones. Keep calm. Wash your hands and do not touch your face on the street.