How to Battle Outbreak Anxiety

With the Coronavirus outbreak hitting we are inundated by news updates from all sides. The constant stream of ever changing information can take a toll on people’s mental health, causing stress and anxiety. This is especially true for people who already have anxiety disorders or OCD for example.

The fear of being out of control and an inability to handle uncertainty are common in people with anxiety disorders. Amidst such panic it’s important that we try our best to keep this anxiety at bay. So with this in mind here are five tips on how to keep calm during the outbreak.

Limit news and be careful what you read

Reading constant streams of news about people panicking isn’t going to do anything other than increase your anxiety. Having long periods away from social media and news websites is advisable, with the World Health Organisation advising that limiting how many times a day you look at the news would be beneficial for maintaining one’s mental health. If it makes you feel worse, limit how long you are looking at it. This is especially important because there is a lot of misinformation being shared, especially on social media.

Get information only from trusted sources

This leads into the next important step, seek information only from trusted sources. Social media can be a double-edged sword. Though it helps us keep in touch with the outside world, friends and family, it is also home to a lot of conspiracy theory and misinformation. Gather information from trusted sources such as the World Health Organisation website, and avoid accounts that you may find triggering. If needs be you can even mute words and hashtags that you find triggering, and unfollow or mute accounts that are perpetuating the panic.

Stay Connected

People in self-isolation or working from home are especially vulnerable to becoming lonely. The number of people in these situations will only increase as we reach the peak of the virus spread. It is important to make sure we stay connected to people in the outside world, even if we can only do this over the internet. Check in on the ones you love, and organise Skype coffee catch ups with friends and colleagues.

Establish a Routine

Try and create a daily personal routine if you are working from home or self-isolating as it will help maintain a sense of normality. Continuing to eat healthily, do exercise and keeping in touch with people will help prevent you feeling stagnant. You can even use the time to complete a To Do list, read a book on your list or do some spring cleaning.

Remember that it’s okay to feel stressed

It’s normal to feel stressed in times of uncertainty. It’s important to acknowledge those feelings and accept that they are not uncommon or unexpected. When you do feel them however it is also important not to let them overwhelm you. When you acknowledge those feelings, pause. Don’t react. Take a deep breath. Pull back and remind yourself that it is just the panic talking. Thoughts are not facts. Remind yourself that those feelings will pass, and then ground yourself. A grounding technique that you can use is focussing on all of your senses. Focus on the present, and ask yourself what can you see, hear, smell, feel, right now. Use the grounding technique to shift your focus away from the panic to the present.