Ask yourself the following: would you feel confident taking an over-the-counter medication if you were 98 percent sure it would work safely? Samuel Paul Veissière, Ph.D., recently asked readers in a Psychology Today article. "Would you dare to gamble all your savings in a one-off scheme in which you had a 98 percent chance of losing it all? The coronavirus is a similar no-brainer," he says. "As a generic member of the human species, you have about the same odds of dying of the coronavirus as winning in the gambling scenario. These are overall rates, meaning that unless you are already in very poor health, are very old, or very young, the odds for you are much lower. Or next to nil."
Living in a 24-hour news cycle can be exhausting as is, and when we add a pandemic to the mix, it can become even more anxiety provoking. With so much talk about the Coronavirus (COVID-19), mental health experts warn it can take a toll on our mental health and wellbeing, and really bother young children that don’t fully understand what is going on.
Vinay Saranga, M.D., founder of Saranga Comprehensive Psychiatry, is a child and adult psychiatrist with expertise in the treatment of anxiety. Here are seven tips he offers for keeping cool during Coronavirus.
- Get your information from reliable sources. The Coronavirus is definitely something to stay informed about, but make sure you are getting accurate information from trusted sources. What your neighbors and social media are saying, while perhaps well-intentioned, may not always be correct. Follow the advice and listen to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and your own personal physician.
- Put it in perspective. Not to minimize the Coronavirus in anyway, but putting things in perspective is a great way to reduce anxiety. For example, you have a much greater chance of catching the flu right now or being injured in a car accident than you do of contracting the Coronavirus. Familiarizing yourself with facts and statistics can help you better understand your risks and the bigger picture.
- Be prepared. Being prepared minimizes worry. Just like with the flu or common cold, there’s nothing you can do to 100 percent guarantee you won’t become sick, but you can take steps to stay healthy, protect yourself and minimize worry. Wash your hands with soap and hot water throughout the day. Limit contact with anyone who is currently sick. Avoid putting your hands in your mouth and touching your face. Get plenty of rest. Eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of water.
- Focus more on the things around you. Everyone should stay informed and know the latest with the Coronavirus, but perhaps one of the best things you can do for your own mental health and wellbeing is stay even more focused on your own little world around you. Sitting in front of the TV all day to track where the virus is and how many people are currently infected isn’t doing you any good and will lead to excess worry. Stay involved in your work, your family and friends, your personal hobbies and interests.
- Keep young children calm. It’s easy for young kids to get easily frightened if they catch news about the Coronavirus. Don’t lie about it and say that it’s nothing because you want to maintain their trust and they will more than likely continuing to hear about it at school or from friends. Let them know it is a real thing, but always keep the conversation positive in tone and reinforce that they are generally very safe.
- Reduce your anxiety. Lowering your anxiety levels is always important. If you find yourself feeling more stressed or anxious than usual, and suspect this is due to worry over the Coronavirus, it’s even more important that you take steps to relax and calm down. Take some deep breaths in through your nose, hold for a few seconds, and slowly breathe out through your mouth. Try some muscle relaxation exercises where you tense each muscle group for a few seconds and then release. Finally, focus on your internal dialog and remind yourself while it’s important to stay informed, there’s no need to cross the line to constant worry and panic.
- Get professional help if you need it. If you are always thinking about the Coronavirus lately; if you are having a difficult time with everyday tasks like eating, sleeping and working; or if you are withdrawing from situations and isolating yourself, please get professional help. A mental health professional can help you take control of your anxiety. There is nothing to be embarrassed about.