Schedule a visit to the doctor’s office or seek urgent medical attention if you are having health concerns. If you’re concerned about symptoms, take care of symptoms right away to ensure a diagnosis as soon as possible. The “possibility” of having coronavirus stirs up a different emotional reaction than the emotional reaction you’d get if the testing is complete and your results are negative for it.
Keep your thinking errors in check and remember to challenge anxious thoughts by acknowledging it’s alternatives. Challenging “what if” statements, over generalizing, + catastrophic thoughts are important practices during times on panic. Example: what if my family gets sick? Challenge that with, “what if we avoid this altogether?” This helps keep a balanced, rational perspective.
Practice healthy assertiveness by practicing physical boundaries with others. It’s okay to refuse a handshake, physical greeting, or touch during this time is understandable and a healthy boundary to hold. According to the World Health Organization, an appropriate distance is 3 feet.
Ground yourself in reality. What is the likelihood of your fears coming true? What is the likelihood of your worst case scenario occurred? What is the likelihood that you may get sick, but will ultimately recover? What is the likelihood that with the right safety precautions, you can avoid it all together? What is your health status and age? What are reputable health organizations telling me that challenges my worst fears? Is this the first time you’ve experienced an outbreak? What was your last experience like and did you avoid it then as well? What did you do then that you can do again and what can you avoid repeating?
Talk about it to your therapist. The virus has been a topic in my office all week long, but only few people directly expressed worries to me at first. If it’s something on your mind, it can be helpful to get an outsiders opinion to help explore/challenge your anxious thoughts.
Set boundaries with the people in your life who trigger your anxiety. To avoid exacerbating your anxiety, let them know that you are not willing to participate in upsetting/unrealistic conversations about the virus for the benefit of your mental health. Change the subject, remove yourself, practice self care, or structuring more productive+realistic conversations are always great alternatives to participating in the hysteria.
Remember that this is an opportunity for us to protect and care for our elderly community. Express appreciation and take health precautions around older loved ones. (Wash hands, avoid physical contact and personal boundaries, and don’t visit them/separate yourself if you suspect you are sick or are exhibiting symptoms.)
If you don’t feel good, give yourself the permission to take off or work from home.