With more than 3.7 billion search results, COVID-19 seems to be all the world is talking about. Every day, there’s a new headline about how to stay prepared, how to flatten the curve, and what to expect. But the constant stream of information provided by 24-hour TV news and social media streams might do more harm than good.
If you’ve found yourself feeling anxious or uncomfortably stressed about the virus, you’re not alone. Mental health professionals are seeing an uptick in anxiety due to the coverage of the virus, and they expect the cases to increase. Others are encouraging those suffering with anxiety to remember that “panic sells, calm saves.”
But how, in the face of never-ending coronavirus content, can you stay calm? Here are a few tips to help you manage.
1. Know your facts.
Instead of scrolling through social media for your information, pick one or two reliable news sources to check for updates, like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, or the BBC, and only check them once a day. Mute topics related to COVID-19 on Twitter, and if the virus keeps popping up in other feeds, try to keep your social media use limited.
Keeping a consistent meditation practice helps us to see scary thoughts for what they are: just thoughts. At L2, we recommend downloading the Sanvello app for meditations, as well as general stress and anxiety management. In the Sanvello app, you’ll find many meditations for different types of stress. A meditation practice can help us manage our thoughts before they become anxiety spirals.
3. Track and unpack your thoughts.
There’s a difference between being scared and prepared. Handle what’s in your control and learn to recognize what’s not. Notice if you’re catastrophizing, fortune telling, or participating in other thinking traps. Sanvello has a feature that allows you to keep tabs on these thoughts and reframe them in the Thoughts section of the app.
4. Be prepared within reason.
It doesn’t hurt to have good habits in place. Wash your hands regularly, avoid touching your face, and for when soap and water aren’t available, use hand sanitizer. There’s no need to buy gallons of Purell or lock yourself in your room. Just being responsible regarding touch and cleanliness is the most considerate thing you can do. Observe CDC guidelines around social distancing and limiting time outside the home to minimize exposure to infection.
5. Plan for what you can.
It’s a time to be compassionate – to yourself and others. As we grapple with closings, cancellations, and social distancing, some things may look and feel a little different for people. Kids and pets will appear on video conferences. Dinner tonight may just be what’s in the cupboard. You may not be able to socialize with friends and family like normal. Being flexible and understanding will help ease the anxiety of others.
6. Be good to your body.
If you’re feeling stressed, the best thing you can do is treat your body right. Drink water, keep blood sugar in good control, get enough rest, spend time in nature, eat healthy, and engage in activities that help reduce stress like walking or talking with a friend.
If you’re not sure how the news around COVID-19 is affecting your stress, start by tracking your mood in Sanvello. The app offers weekly assessments that measure your stress and anxiety, allowing you to compare over time how you’re feeling. These assessments can help put your current state in perspective and better understand how it’s affecting you.
The news will always cause some stress, but how we interact with the constant stream of information is within our control.