Updated: Mar 14, 2020
Tips and Support for Dealing with Coronavirus Anxiety
As of the original posting of this article, Gov. Parson was about to announce the second case of coronavirus in Missouri. It’s likely that we will continue to discover more cases as the virus spreads through the U.S. Local colleges in Columbia, Mo., have already shut down in-person classes, including Columbia College and Mizzou, and services and businesses around the city continue to adjust and respond.
With this rapidly moving situation about a concerning virus, it’s normal to have spikes of anxiety. This is an appropriate response that humans have to prepare for possibly dangerous situations. However, sometimes anxieties can get out of control, and end up causing us more stress than is helpful for the situation. Here are some tips to help you respond to appropriate concerns, while not letting your anxieties control you.
1. Focus on things you can control
We can’t control how the government does or doesn’t respond, how others decide to deal with this situation, or people who’ve already hoarded hand sanitizer and toilet paper. But there are many things we can control in this situation. This includes following recommendations for hand washing, avoiding touching your face, and refraining from large crowds and unnecessary travel. You can also control your own self care, both physically and mentally (keep scrolling for more tips).
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services recently opened a hotline where you can ask questions about COVID-19. It’s open 24/7 and staffed by medical professionals. Call 877/435-8411.
2. Social distance physically, but not mentally Social distance is the in thing these days, for good reason. Fortunately, we live in an age where that doesn’t have to mean isolating yourself. Keep in touch with friends, check on relatives, and check out all of the cool online services suddenly available. I’ve gotten several e-mails just this morning about special events and programs that are switching to online platforms. That adds up to a lot of cool online events!
3. Take the time for yourself If you’re off work, quarantined, or stuck at home, find a special project for yourself
Sometimes it’s easy to pass days with binge-watching and scrolling through social media. However, with extra time on your hands, you can actually make this a special time of self-support and growth for yourself. If you’re into art, pick a project you’ve been wanting to get started. If you’re a reader, finally make time for that novel. If you’re a cook, try some new recipes. Take advantage of this newfound time.
4. If you get Covid-19, try not to panic
If you suspect you have the virus, follow local recommendations. At the time this was posted, the City of Columbia had the following posted on their website: “Call the COVID-19 Hotline at 877.435.8411. Do not go to the emergency room or doctor’s office before calling. If unable to get through, call your local healthcare provider. If you do not have a local healthcare provider, call the Health Department at 573.874.7355.”
As you go through this process and follow the recommendations, try not to panic. Remember that the large majority of people have a mild case, and get better. Decreasing stress and keeping a positive outlook can help boost our immune systems. One Wuhan nurse who contracted the virus and got better, says she focused on “calming the heart and maintaining a rational and positive attitude.” She said, “I believe that everyone’s immune system can defeat this virus.”
5. If you can’t stop panicking, try relaxation techniques
If you are feeling panicked, there are multiple relaxation techniques that can help you calm your brain’s panic response. Here’s a link to some anxiety management tips I’ve put together previously to help you address short-term symptoms. Try these or other strategies that work for you.
6. Try telehealth options when available
In one CNN article, a geriatric health professional recommends that seniors cancel all non-essential doctor’s appointments, and consider telehealth options instead, to avoid contracting the virus. Virtual therapy is also available for counseling sessions. There are also several therapists in the Columbia, Mo., area, who offer telehealth. I am offering additional telehealth appointment options for clients around Missouri. Click here to set up a telehealth, or virtual therapy, appointment. These can be conducted by phone and/or video chat, using secure services that protect your privacy.
7. Follow advice from local health experts and officials
As the situation is continuing to change, recommendations may also change. Check in once or twice per day (try not to do so compulsively throughout the day), with reliable sources, such as the World Health Organization , or the Missouri Department of Health.
Here are other local resources:
If you'd like to set up an in-person or telehealth appointment, call or text Jennie at 573/291-7315.