Reading and watching the news lately, it’s difficult not to feel some level of anxiety. For some, however, the constant coverage of the current COVID-19, also referred to as coronavirus can exacerbate anxiety for individuals who have a history of health and other anxiety-related disorders.
While there is a need to take precautions to protect yourself from exposure to COVID-19 and other similar viruses, it can be difficult to discern how to protect our physical and mental health during a disease outbreak.
Here are some ways to stay informed and also ensure we are taking care of our emotional well-being during a time of uncertainty:
Be mindful of your media consumption
Moderation is key when it comes to the media we are exposed to. During this 24-hour news cycle, it can be hard to break away from unsettling reports of new cases of the coronavirus. There’s nothing wrong with staying informed. However, limiting our social media and television usage is crucial to maintaining our emotional health. Try to limit seeking out information to only once or twice a day, rather than getting caught in a constant loop of the same information throughout the day. Setting boundaries for ourselves is a healthy practice that is important even when it comes to news coverage of local and international events that have the potential to affect our daily lives.
Know where to get the most accurate and up-to-date information
Unfortunately, because of our society’s nature of having a 24-hour news cycle, it’s impossible to avoid news from numerous sources. The problem becomes that not all news sources provide the most accurate or updated information as a situation develops. Currently, the most accurate and up-to-date information is coming directly from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States, and the World Health Organization (WHO) internationally.
Knowing yourself and what you can do
The reality is that the coronavirus is as easily contracted as the common cold or the seasonal flu. However, there are steps that you can take to reduce your risk and limit exposure to the coronavirus. It is also important to know if you’re part of the population at a higher risk for illness. The key is to remain calm, know how to reduce your risk of exposure and understand what additional steps you may need to take to protect yourself if you are an older adult or someone with a compromised immune system. If you are a member of a vulnerable population, talk to your doctor about the most effective ways to protect yourself, and have a treatment plan in the event you exhibit symptoms of COVID-19, or if you come in contact with someone who has the virus. Understanding what the coronavirus is and its symptoms are important for your safety and seeking treatment should you contract the illness.
If you’re experiencing heightened anxiety that is interfering with your daily life, speak with your mental health provider to discuss what strategies to include in your treatment plan during this time of fear and uncertainty. You’re not alone in this, and we can help you work through ways to reduce your anxiety while understanding how to protect yourself and maintain your physical and emotional well-being.