Let’s face it; we’re just beginning to understand the Coronavirus.
What we know now
It’s a member of a family of viruses associated with the common cold and existed in animals before recently mutating and undergoing transmission to humans.
It leads to an illness called Coronavirus Disease 2019 or COVID-19. People with the disease typically have a fever, cough, trouble breathing and exhaustion.
Most of us recover!
Most people who get the disease recover on their own with no lasting consequences, according to the World Health Organization. But up to 20 percent of cases may need urgent medical attention. Those most at risk include elderly adults and people with underlying health conditions.
Men appear to experience at least twice the risk of complications and death as women, and obesity as well as diabetes, heart disease and immunologic conditions are reported risk factors for serious illness.
A particular affinity for lung tissue
Because the virus has a particular affinity for lung tissue, breathing can become compromised, and patients requiring hospital care often need the assistance of a mechanical ventilator, or respirator.
Simple actions like washing your hands, not touching your face and staying home when sick can help keep everyone safe. Social distancing and avoiding large gatherings are also key to curbing transmission.
The rise of anxiety
The novelty of the coronavirus threat, the uncertainty about its behavior, and the necessary adoption of restrictive measures to contain its spread, such as social isolation, have created unusual conditions giving rise to unprecedented levels of anxiety.
Anxiety is an unpleasant sensation that normally serves as a stimulus to take appropriate action, but the very measures taken to curb the coronavirus require that people refrain from most forms of activity. As a result, the impact of anxiety is magnified and many people feel helpless.
So if you have been noticing a spike in your stress, you’re not alone; it is actually a normal response.
Three strategies to help you cope
However, not only is stress unpleasant, it can also hinder your immunity, so here are four strategies to help you maintain your mental wellness during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recognize your stress
Stress is a normal part of life. It is a natural response to an external pressure that disrupts your equilibrium. It often causes symptoms such as:
• Sadness, confusion, irritability, anger, uneasiness and
• Reduced concentration, efficiency and productivity
• Social withdrawal and isolation
There are many others listed in an article in Psychology Today by Shainna Ali, Ph.D.
The first important step
According to the Four Branch Model of Emotional Intelligence, the first most important step is to recognize your emotional state in order to understand and manage your emotions. Therefore, if you don’t acknowledge that you are stressed, you are impeding your ability to manage your stress.
1. Manage what you can; release what you cannot,
There is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the virus, and it is important to manage what you can with the information that is already out there, and release the need to control what you cannot.
By simply choosing (and yes…it is a choice we can make) to combat our anxiety, its symptoms can be reduced.. And The World Health Organization is a wonderful resource to stay updated with information such as its prevention guide and its myth busting list.
2. Know your limits
It is helpful to pay attention to the trends in your life which increases or decreases your feelings of anxiety. Ignoring your signs, overextending yourself, and delving into fictional sources may increase your stress, so you might consider building boundaries to protect your well-being. For example, perhaps you can benefit from creating a habit of checking in with your emotions in order to avoid overlooking your stress.
Another example is to limit your consumption of news. You may do this by refining your information to reputable sources, setting a time for when you can check the news and limiting the amount of updates you explore with the individuals in your life.
3. Practice self-care
Self-care is the active process of acknowledging and tending to your needs. Self-care includes practices that invest in your general wellness. This can include preventative measures such as eating nutritious foods, staying active and getting adequate rest.
When you are stressed, you require a specific form of intervention self-care: coping. Your coping mechanisms are the methods that you use in an effort to moderate your stress. Therefore, if you pay attention to the symptoms that arise when you are stressed, you may find clues into the right coping mechanisms for you. Let’s say you are showing signs of confusion, body aches and fatigue. From this acknowledgement, you may gather that you may need ample rest. Then, you may tailor your self-care to include a break, stretching, or sleep in order to meet this need.
Make the most of the reality that you are in. Instead of focusing on all the things you cannot do, focus on coping mechanisms that you can do, such as crafts, meditating, cleaning, painting (Mary and I are in the process of painting the interior of our house), playing with a pet, reading a book, calling someone you love, watching your favorite movie, practicing gratitude, taking an online class, or hosting a virtual gathering. (if you don’t know how, simply Google “How to host a virtual gathering.”
Steven Campbell is the author of “Making Your Mind Magnificent.” His seminar “Taming Your Mind, Unleashing Your Life” is now available online at stevenrcampbell.teachable.com. For more information, call Steven Campbell at 707-480-5507.