Yes, it’s an overwhelming and stressful time. But you can curb your anxiety around the coronavirus, even when so much is unknown and unpredictable right now.
What’s the open secret of how to do that? Lean in, use your tools (or get some), and face this situation, and yourself, head-on.
Feed on Facts, Not Fiction
Stick to a few trusted news sources for information and stop believing everything you read on social media. Stop continually trolling for new details about the virus every hour; check-in no more than once or twice a day. Know your limits and take a news fast when you need it.
Balance hard news facts with feel-good stories, which you can find on the Good News Network.
Create A Positive Routine
This pandemic has disrupted your life and your everyday routines. No one knows how long it’s going to last or how bad it’s going to get, but there’s a good chance we’ll be sheltering in place for more than two weeks, and that whatever our new normal is after the main threat is over, life will be different than it was.
So rather than just freezing up or pretending this will all go away, take control of your life with a new positive routine. Include self-care like daily movement, sleep, and regularly scheduled, healthy meals. This is not a vacation and shouldn’t be treated like one. When you put your kids and yourself on a routine, everyone will feel calmer, centered, and grounded.
The need for a new routine is especially true if you’re now working from home. Set up a dedicated workspace (maybe your dining room?) and set designated hours for work time.
Take Responsibility For Your Thoughts and Feelings
Stop and decide how you want to respond to all this. Are you going to panic or pray? How do you want to be? Anxious or anchored? What qualities can you bring forward now? Tenacity, humor, creativity?
Create a ritual for when you feel overwhelmed by sadness or fear, such as something as simple as lighting a candle and taking 5 deep breaths.
Practice mindfulness – being present in the moment. If this is foreign to you or feels impossible right now, watch videos and listen to guided meditations by master mindfulness teachers such as Tara Brach, who is continuing her weekly live teachings online. This will help change the negative tape loop in your mind.
Use tools to interrupt when negative thoughts have you spinning out of control. The quickest and easiest thing to do is deep breathing, inhaling for 5 counts, exhaling for 5 counts.
This might be a great time to learn EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique or Tapping) A good start is with master teacher Brad Yates. Watch this specific video Brad created for dealing with coronavirus fear.
Decide to make all your feelings acceptable to yourself, even the sense that some emotions are unacceptable. I know you love your children, AND that is not diminished by your occasionally feeling trapped at home with them. I’m 320 miles from home, where I’ve been taking care of my elderly mother for the past two months. I adore her, and I’m happy I’m here, AND I wish I were home so I could be in my garden. It’s OK; I make space for all of that.
A tool to help you with making space for thoughts and feelings is Morning Pages, from The Artist’s Way by Judith Cameron. Upon arising, dump your thoughts out onto three pages of notebook paper, writing longhand. Just write anything that comes to mind, stream of consciousness style, writing nonstop. Then close the book and go about your day. No rereading! Learn more from Julia HERE.
Reach Out, Whether You Need It Or Not
Contact friends and family to check in and give messages of support. Reaching out reinforces a sense of connection, and sending positive messages reinforces those messages in your mind, too. When I text a friend recently that I was confident that he would get through this, I was telling myself what I also needed to hear.
You might think you’re too busy to connect or feeling too depressed, but I guarantee you it will help to talk to someone who knows and loves you, just as you are. It helps to remind yourself that we’re all in this big lifeboat of a planet together.
And if you’re feeling like you’re doing OK, there’s someone out there who’s not, so check-in with anyone and everyone that crosses your mind.
And it might be time to reach out to a mental health professional. Most therapists are working remotely now, doing telehealth. I’m available for sessions and would be happy to support you. Book sessions with me HERE. (75 minutes for $85)
Be A Responsible Community Member
Once you have the facts, take them seriously, and respond accordingly. The most crucial point about coronavirus right now is that it’s imperative to take the “shelter in place” directive very seriously and to stay home and take all precautions. You are not immune to the virus, and you could get it and infect others without knowing it.
When you take control of what you can control — your thoughts, reactions, and daily routine — you will automatically reduce your anxiety and be able to function better. These are not things you’ll do just once; you’ll need to practice them day in and day out.
And I am absolutely sure you can do it.