10 Ways to Reduce Coronavirus Anxiety

Current issues facing Australia

The COVID-19 scare has become increasingly worrying for everyone over an extremely short period of time. Every day, further breaking news of the epidemic appears worldwide, particularly focusing on Australia now where cases of positive testings and even deaths appear to be rising. Everyone has been affected somehow either directly or indirectly, physically and/or mentally. As we watch the outbreak via our televisions and social media, we are becoming more fearful for our own protection and health, resulting in a widespread, global panic. Not only this, our financial markets are falling, major annual events are being cancelled/postponed and travel is temporarily banned with additional requirements for all travellers arriving from overseas destinations to self-quarantine for a minimum of 14 days. The tourism industry is collapsing leading to a loss of many jobs and incomes for Australian employees. The Australian Government is looking to close schools which will impact our already understaffed hospitals and medical practices as many parents who work in these industries will have to stay home with their children. Frustration and fear is also greatly affecting those whom have other existing medical conditions as they are worried they will not be able to access the support they need. Australia is now facing an undersupply of stock in supermarkets due to the extreme fear as many people are racing to stock up on household goods to prepare for quarantine isolation.

It is important to remember that whilst this is happening, the best thing we can do for ourselves is to remain calm, remembering that the likeliness of contracting the illness is still very low. Refrain from checking the news frequently as this can escalate levels of anxiety and fear. Although anxiety assists with safeguarding our behaviours and exposure levels, we need to be careful that we are not leading ourselves into extreme anxiety which can cause severe panic. When we are in a state of panic, we are stressing ourselves and others around us and more prone to making mistakes and irrational decisions/behaviours.

1. Limit your surroundings and contact

If you suspect that you have any of the relevant Coronavirus symptoms, it is important that you get tested as early as possible in order to confirm whether you are positive or negative to Coronavirus. Avoiding testing may increase your anxiety around the symptoms and you could potentially fear the worse for yourself if your symptoms persist or worsen. If you live in an area where the virus exists, it is best to completely avoid any public areas, gatherings or other people as much as possible for the time being. Health authorities have advised that you can contract the virus and not show any symptoms for a certain period of time. This is important to understand because although you may not have become aware of it, you are continuing to spread it around whilst coming into contact with others in the meantime. The severity of the illness will differ from person to person depending on their immune system. To learn more specifically about the processes in your area, check your government’s health website. By limiting your surroundings and contact, you will begin to feel more comfortable about your low risk and the likelihood of contracting the virus. General hygiene and precautionary practices should be followed as well which include: washing hands regularly, avoiding handshakes, covering your mouth with sneezes and coughs, using tissues and disposing them correctly, eating healthy, nutritious immune-boosting foods and self-isolating as much as possible. By following these processes you are providing yourself with a better chance at staying healthy and you will feel less worried and fearful. Don’t overthink about germs, keep to a cleanly routine and take your mind off the situation to avoid obsessing. If you notice that your thoughts are becoming anxious or obsessive, recognise that you don’t need to spend time engaging with that thought or emotion.

2. Self-reflect

Self reflection should be practiced at any time you feel your thoughts or emotions becoming unbalanced so that you can identify your concerns and try to work out how you can move past them. Particularly around this time, it is very normal to experience some up and down emotions so the same practices should be followed. If possible, a great start to identifying your concerns would be to speak with someone and explain your situation to them. They may be able to help you to see it from another perspective by providing you with some insight to help you feel better. Writing down your thoughts and emotions as if you are telling someone your story can also help you to explore areas in your mind in which you may have forgotten or not thought about. Practicing creative hobbies or meditation is also a wonderful form of self reflection and will increase your happiness, lower your anxiety and improve your overall mental wellbeing when done on a regular basis.

3. Keep busy

Due to the recommendations of self-isolation, it can be straining on your mental health if you are not keeping active or keeping your brain busy. Physical exercise that you can do at home on a yoga-mat, treadmill, weights, stretching, etc., will have a hugely positive impact on your emotions at the time of isolation. It is important that you don’t lose your sense of routine if you are confined to your home temporarily. Routines such as cooking and eating healthy meals will help to keep you feeling you’re balancing your day with other activities as overeating due to boredom can have a negative impact on your mentally and physically especially if you are not eating the right foods. Ensuring that your day is still proactive will help you to feel better about the situation as you might get things done that you wouldn’t have otherwise. Some things could include; a big house clean, work projects, brain stimulants such as puzzles or other creative, relaxing activities you have been meaning to try. If you can leave your house, try to maintain healthy routines as much as possible and distract your mind from the situation by doing things you enjoy. Please remember that your safety always comes first, avoid self-isolation if it becomes unnecessary as it can be possible to develop overwhelming anxiety and fear.

4. Take precautions and prepare

A few measures have been outlined by the World Health Organisation in order for people to reduce their risk of contracting Coronavirus. The majority of these steps are basic every-day procedures which should be followed such as washing hands and under the nails thoroughly with soap, disinfecting all commonly used/touched surfaces such as tables, kitchen bench, door knobs, light switches, etc., avoid touching your face, biting nails and to avoid others with any relevant symptoms. Eating healthily and exercising will boost your immune system so your body will have a better chance at fighting it off even if you fail to follow these processes. If possible, ensure that you are up to date with flu shot and pneumonia immunisations as these illnesses can make you more susceptible to the Coronavirus and can cause more severe implications.

5. Be considerate with preparations

As fears rise, many people have rushed to stock up on standard household supplies such as toilet paper, face masks, sanitisers, and staple foods from leading supermarkets. Unfortunately due to the high demand, many of these goods have not been supplied accordingly and lots of people have been left without with struggles to find some elsewhere. It is important to be considerate to other shoppers and only take as much as you need. Masks are an excellent source of protection for yourself spreading onto others and contracting. It is important to ensure that you are wearing the mask correctly, avoiding frequent hand contact and disposing of it correctly. Even following these precautions will not be much protection for those healthy individuals wanting to prevent the virus. Taking these measures to extremes can cause increased anxiety by tricking your thinking into believing you are at a higher risk of contraction than you really are.

6. Welcome support

Remaining in either face to face contact or via phone/skype with family and friends will help you to feel a sense of comfort, support and stability with whatever situation you are dealing with. Allowing others around you to support you in hard times can be difficult, especially during this Coronavirus period. It can be financially hard if you are unable to work due to the virus, however it is important to speak with the people closest to you even if you may not think they can help your situation. Feeling ashamed, embarrassed or pretending you are okay because of your pride or ego is never helpful in the long run. Speaking to others opens doors and lets others know you are in need of assistance. It can also be beneficial to talk about your concerns out loud to release stress, think clearer and become more in touch with yourself emotionally.

7. Check your source’s credibility

To ensure that you are not giving yourself more reasons to fear and panic, only read up to date news articles regarding Coronavirus on credible websites, articles, etc. The government health websites are constantly being updated to ensure your safety is not sabotaged by other false news.

8. Take a break from media

As mentioned before, while reading incorrect news can cause mislead decision making and increased panic, so can over-reading news. It’s normal to want to keep informed and up to date as soon as more news is shared, however you should not let this take over your life for the time being. Focusing on your own health and happiness by taking breaks and doing other tasks will allow you to calm down from the stress you are watching outside, especially when it is commonly blown out of proportion.

9. Practice mindfulness

We have an automatic survival mechanism which we have developed as humans known as the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism to protect us in any given situation. When we realise we are in danger and the situation is highly stressful and life threatening, our bodies subconsciously respond to automatically fight the threat or run away. The Coronavirus pandemic is similar, when we are overthinking and focusing on the negative impacts and worst outcomes, we are placing ourselves into a ‘dangerous, highly stressful’ situation unnecessarily. Always remember to estimate the likelihood of an outcome using clear, logical thinking before making any big decisions. By recognising that these thoughts and emotions could be exaggerated, you are able to manually shift your state of mind to a more positive, present state which helps you to focus on how you actually are in the present moment. This is easily done by focusing on your breathing and current surroundings to relax you. By doing this, you are practicing mindfulness; becoming aware of the moment without judging your thoughts or feelings, rather accepting they happened and shifting.

10.Abide recommended protection & prevention guidelines

Regardless of what country you are located in, you will have your own Department of Health or similar which provide trusted information in relation to COVID-19. This information will help you to understand how to protect yourself and others whilst handing the event of the crisis.

Check out your government’s health information website and keep yourself informed.

Australia’s official health websites:

About Coronavirus COVID-19 from Australian Government Department of Health

Coronavirus COVID-19 Health Alert from Australian Government Department of Health

State/Territory websites:

Coronavirus COVID-19 in Queensland from the QLD Government

Coronavirus COVID-19 in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) from ACT Government

Coronavirus COVID-19 in New South Wales from the NSW Government

Coronavirus COVID-19 in South Australia from SA Government

Coronavirus in COVID-19 Western Australia from WA Government

Coronavirus COVID-19 in Victoria from VIC Government

Coronavirus COVID-19 in Northern Territory from NT Government

Coronavirus COVID-19 in Tasmania from TAS Government

USA health websites:

USA Government

U.S Department of State

On behalf of Vitality Unleashed Psychology, we wish you and your family & friends a safe, healthy and peaceful time during the epidemic. We are all trying our best to work through this together as a country and a world, please remember that your contribution to the safety and protection of others and yourself plays a part. Please look after yourself and keep positive.

Disclaimer: The information that appears in this article is not medical advice and should not be treated as such. Please consult your doctor or visit your government’s health website to obtain professional medical advice specific to COVID-19 or other under your circumstances.

If you would like to get in contact with us, please email or phone 07 5574 3888.

Acute Care Team: 1300 642 255
LifeLine: 13 11 14
BeyondBlue: 1300 22 4636
Men’s Line: 1300 78 99 78
In an emergency, call ambulance on 000 or attend to your local hospital emergency department whom have mental health teams who provide assessment and brief intervention in times of mental health crisis.