Since its discovery in December 2019, the novel Coronavirus known as COVID-19 has spread at an exponential rate and has now become a global pandemic. While scientists and health professionals worldwide are racing to study and learn more about COVID-19 in attempts to find a vaccine, the virus continues to take its toll.
Plagued with a mix of misinformation, overload, and uncertainty, it becomes very easy to feel anxious and worried about the future. The feelings of anxiety are unavoidable, and often lead to panic, which in turn lead us to make illogical decisions and act irrationally.
In order to properly deal with anxiety, it’s important to not only be aware of the existence of our anxiety, but also the result of the anxiety. Doing so allows us to better understand whether our behavior is actually beneficial or detrimental to our well-being. By becoming aware that our anxious behavior has no basis and leads to no rewards, our brains will adjust to behaviors that are more rewarding. Over time, this can replace bad habits with good ones.
For example, after touching your own face, you might think to yourself that you’ll now get sick, and then start panicking and acting irrationally, like buying excessive amounts of hand sanitizer or soap. If you take a step back and think about the last time you cleaned your hands, you might realize that you had just done so, and that there was no need to worry and be unreasonably paranoid about getting sick.
Once you begin to become aware of this, the positive feelings begin to outweigh the bad feelings, and the rewards of the former start to become more appealing. As a result, your brain naturally moves toward the more rational course of action. Over time, you can train your brain to become better equipped to deal with uncertainty and anxiety.
Here are a couple of other strategies that can help you cope with our new reality:
Start with self-care.
By staying both physically and mentally healthy, you can remain more calm and ready for constantly changing circumstances. Keeping yourself grounded can start inspiring others around you to do the same.
Don’t invalidate your own feelings, or those of others around you.
We’re all facing an uncertain situation. Don’t beat yourself or others up for how they may feel or act. Things are going to change, and people are going to act differently, and even if you feel like those are unwarranted, they are all equally valid and justified in their own ways.
Try to stay connected.
Because of social distancing, it’s definitely way more difficult to meet up in person. However, you can still take advantage of technology to stay connected. Using video chat, phone calls, teleconferencing, and social media, you can remain connected to your friends and family and maintain that social aspect.
Focus on the facts.
Staying informed from accurate and credible information sources is important. Avoiding misinformation, speculation, and rumors as they can only lead to overthinking and unnecessary stress and anxiety. Also, pick a few sources to get your update, but avoid being consumed by COVID-19 information all day long.
Have fun and be grateful for what you have.
With all the chaos surrounding it, it’s easy to lose track of what’s important. Sometimes, it really is about the little things in life, so be sure to take some time to enjoy things like spending time with loved ones, picking up new hobbies, or trying new things you’ve always wanted to try. Being grateful for what you do have and expressing it to those around you can also lead to positive feelings for us and our loved ones.
Focus on things you CAN control.
All of our daily routines are going to change inevitably. But seeing this as a new opportunity to restructure your day can be exciting as well! You can take this time to focus on achieving your goals in life, whether it’s a backlog of things you always wished you had more time for, or brand new goals entirely. Not only can this help you divert your mind from the anxiety of COVID-19, but it can lead to a happier and more productive life as well!