6 Tips to Stay Calm and Mentally Healthy

Originally published March 12, 2020 on thriveglobal.com

Some people have labeled the international spread of the “COVID-19” virus “Coronageddon,” which is a very scary and frightening thought. In fact, yesterday it was announced, “The global coronavirus outbreak has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization which expressed increasing concern about the spread of the disease and “alarming levels of inaction.” (Sky News)

However, during times of an international health crisis sometimes fear and fear of the unknown can become a larger crisis then the pandemic. People’s fight or flight mechanism becomes activated; yet there’s nowhere to go and no one to fight.

One of the best remedies to reduce widespread fear from escalating out of control is to seek accurate knowledge and information about the virus. I recommend you check with World Health Organization, www.who.int, or the Centers Disease Control And Prevention www.cdc.gov, which are reliable sources that provide daily updates every 24 hours along with all the pre-emptive steps you can take to limit your risk of exposure to the virus. Status updates on the severity of the disease and global actions that are being taken to limit it from spreading are happening on an hourly basis.

Here is some basic information that is documented on the CDC website that may help you grasp and understand the trajectory, scope and magnitude of the virus.

The CDC is responding to an outbreak of respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that was first detected in China and which has now been detected in more than 100 locations internationally, including in the United States. The virus has been named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”). Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats.

More cases of COVID-19 are likely to be identified in the United States in the coming days, including more instances of community spread. It’s likely that at some point, widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the United States will occur. At this time, there is no vaccine to protect against COVID-19 and no medications approved to treat it.

 The WHO has recommended the following, “All countries should increase their level of preparedness, alert and response to identify, manage and care for new cases of COVID-19. Countries should prepare to respond to different public health scenarios, recognizing that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing cases and outbreaks of COVID-19. Each country should assess its risk and rapidly implement the necessary measures at the appropriate scale to reduce both COVID-19 transmission and economic, public and social impacts.”

In the interim, we must care for ourselves and our loved ones and do our best to stay mentally and physically healthy. Here are six (6) tips on how to develop a behavioral maintenance regimen that will help you calm your levels of fear and anxiety in dealing with all the known and unknowns about the virus.

6 Tips to Stay Calm and Mentally Healthy

 

1. Pay close attention to the evidence. This includes knowing who is at risk. The elderly and those with compromised immune systems are particularly vulnerable. Finding preemptive ways to prevent the virus from spreading is critical and a civic responsibility to save the vulnerable groups, not because the virus is a death sentence.

2. If you’re not showing symptoms of illness, face your fears and continue to live your life. Fear begets fear and isolation begets more isolation. Stocking up on food supplies and toilet paper as if the world is coming to an end is a catastrophic “fight or flight” response. Follow all the protective measures the CDC has recommended to safeguard yourself and your family from contracting the virus.

3. Make a conscious decision to avoid listening to a group think mentality which could fuel paranoia and get the best of you. If you’re in situations where all anyone is talking about is the virus, take a break. Don’t over-saturate your brain.  That’s when your thoughts would tend to careen away from evidence-based thinking and into fear-based thinking. Limit your intake of media coverage to once a day for a brief amount of time, if necessary.

4. Don’t let people pleasing behaviors get in the way of following whatever you believe is the best way to handle yourself during this time. Be your own person, act responsibly and go about your life safely and practically. Avoid letting the “noise” of other people’s behavior, opinions or choices infiltrate yours.

5. If you’re being tested or diagnosed and are self-isolating or being quarantined, you may develop feelings of loneliness, depression, and/or anxiety about being cut-off from your normal life routines, friends and family. Don’t stop communicating. I recommend that you stay in touch with your loved ones and co-workers and maintain social contact with them via the phone, texting or FaceTime.

6. If you’ve contracted the virus and feel well enough, figure out how to make use of your down time. Try to catch up on a task you’ve been meaning to get to such as organizing photo albums, closets or drawers, read a book, binge watch your favorite TV series or clearing out spam from your email files. If you have a creative hobby, indulge. It’s important to keep your brain entertained in a multitude of ways (productive, creative) during a very challenging time.

Remember, this is a new virus and there is no vaccine to protect against COVID-19 and no medications approved to treat it. Exercise commonsense, self-quarantine if applicable, practice social distancing, follow the all the preventative steps and instructions that have been recommended and avoid panicking at all costs. Remain extremely cautionary and respect the Corona virus poses serious ramifications and threatens our ability to sustain our lives in the way we’re accustomed. It requires us all to act responsibly and protect each other.