The corona virus has captured everyone and everything. The world is on hold until further notice. Schools are closed, sporting events are cancelled, Broadway is postponed, and grocery stores are packed as people prepare to be home. Fear and panic has taken over and humans are in an extended state of fight or flight. For those who struggle with anxiety on a normal day, this can be crippling to their mental health. For others, this can be the start of what can turn into a long-term anxiety and fear issue.
The anatomy of fear
When a person senses fear, the body responds with “fight or flight.” Hormones are released including Cortisol and Adrenaline. Your heart rate increases, you begin breathing faster, and your body prepares itself for survival. Typically, this doesn’t last long as your body starts to go back to normal again. However, with stressful situations that linger, a continued state of fight or flight can occur. This can take a toll on a person’s physical, mental and emotional health. In the case of the coronavirus, since there is a lot of unknown factors, people are remaining in a state of fight or flight. This is when panic sets in and irrational thinking happens.
4 Ways to Manage Fear & Anxiety
- Pause & breathe
When your body is going through fight or flight, you are inclined to react immediately. Run to the store to load up on essentials! Wipe down your entire house! Yell at your kids because they aren’t listening! When you react quickly without a plan, others around you feed into your panic and experience fear and anxiety as well. Take a moment and breathe. It will help manage your body’s fight or flight reaction so that you can begin to think rationally. If you remain calm so will others around you.
2. Create a plan
If you have any children, you can imagine what educators and other school staff members have been doing the past few weeks to prepare. This consisted of many school officials meeting to collaborate a plan so education continues during school closures. This didn’t happen overnight. These plans were well thought out and carefully planned before it was communicated with all staff, parents, and eventually students. Do the same for you and your family. Take a moment when you are calm, sit down, and create a plan so you and your family are prepared. Do you need to stock up on food and staples for the next few weeks? If you take medication, did you order a bigger supply? Keep in mind, there are others who are also planning. Be courteous and only buy what you need. It is not necessary to purchase 24 rolls of toilet paper for yourself. If you do, you are probably still in a state of fight or flight and need to pause and breathe.
3. Educate yourself
As you probably have noticed, there is a lot of information going around regarding the coronavirus. People are glued to the news and their phones as they read articles and comments and posts from friends and family on social media. Find reputable sources, use common sense, and learn how to keep you and your family safe during this time. The more knowledge you have, the less anxious and fearful you will be. Although there are unknown factors with this particular situation, do what you can based on what you learn and continue to breathe through the fear and anxiety that you may experience due to the unknown factors. Disconnect from information as well. Too much information will cause overload, increase anxiety and will be counterproductive.
4. Take time to enjoy the break
There is usually a silver lining in the midst of a crisis if you look for it. In this case, everything is on hold until further notice. Individuals and families are forced to remain where they are and activities are limited. No sports. No activities. No school. Work has decreased or become remote. Your once fast paced lifestyle has suddenly come to a halt. Enjoy the moment. Be with your kids. Play with them. Take out some board games, a catch outside, a movie day (at home of course!), or spend the day cooking together as a family so you can freeze some meals. Go outside and enjoy the weather. It is Spring after all!
Don’t forget, this pandemic will eventually end and you will go right back to your once fast paced life. If there is anything that this pandemic has taught you, it is that health is the top priority. Everything else is not as important. That is why everyone and everything is on hold for now. Reflect on this so when life goes back to normal again, your priorities and values will reset.
We hope you and your family stay safe and we wish you well. If your fear and anxiety is difficult to manage alone during this time, we are just a call away!