My hope for you, for everyone, is that we keep our wellbeing during COVID-19 alarm and fear. We seem to have entered mayhem globally, nationally, and locally. For your own sake, please don’t panic. It’s hard not to be anxious right now, so I want to help. If you’re like me and are very tired of seeing coronavirus headlines everywhere, bear with me. I am simply here to humbly offer some tips you can use to keep your wellbeing strong and live your quality life, moment by moment, despite what society is doing.
Keep Your Wellbeing During COVID-19 Epidemic of Fear
Madness is spreading faster than the virus itself. Here are
some things you can do in your own “bubble” (your personal world that includes
you, loved ones and friends, coworkers, and places you go every day; that’s
also known as your greater neighborhood.)
The tips at a glance:
- Remember that, while a new strain to be taken
seriously, this is only a virus.
- Stay away from stuff that doesn’t help.
- Choose your focus and your actions.
- Be mindful in each and every one of your moments.
- Channel your inner Mr. Rogers to make it a beautiful day in your neighborhood.
Read on for the details to help you put these into practice.
Remember that, while a new strain to be taken seriously, this is only a virus.
Viruses do carry health consequences, and people can die from viruses. That said, certain populations are more vulnerable than others. The coronavirus is like all other viruses in that the very old, very young, and people with compromised immune systems are at greater risk. This is because their bodies aren’t as efficient and effective at fighting off health invaders.
Our wellbeing during COVID-19 is threatened. The coronavirus scare is taking over our lives, and the biggest risk isn’t to our physical health. In fact, for most people, health isn’t threatened beyond what the body does to respond to any cold or flu virus.
Marianne Obenchain, a woman who contracted coronavirus on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, acknowledges the fear, stating that “Everyone thinks that if you have the virus, you’re automatically sick and you’re going to die.” She emphasizes that this fear isn’t based on what really happens. She experienced a slight cough and fever. She didn’t feel up to par, but she wasn’t miserable. For Ms. Obenchain, the worst part has been the loneliness of isolation. She understands the need, though, and she knows that this is temporary, both her illness and her isolation. (Follow this link to read her full story.) It’s her wellbeing that is threatened the most during her bout with COVID-19.
Continuing to remind yourself of these truths–that the virus isn’t a death sentence and that this situation in its entirety is temporary–will help reduce health anxiety and let you keep your wellbeing.
Stay away from stuff that doesn’t help. (True stories to help you keep your perspective)
Paying attention to the wrong things is damaging our wellbeing. Panic-driven news
reports are providing misleading information. A report in my community yesterday
that the trucking industry is shutting down and that the food supply is gone,
limited only to what is currently on shelves, led to mass fear. People flocked
to stores, pushed and shoved, and treated each other horribly. A friend told me
Her sister-in-law was at a large
store that placed a two-package limit on toilet paper purchases. The man in
front of her had four. The clerk took two, and asked my friend’s sister-in-law
if she wanted them (her cart had no toilet paper). She did. As the clerk was
handing her the items, a man shoved his way in out of seemingly nowhere and
pushed her over to grab the rolls of toilet paper.
A medical assistant I spoke with this morning told me that panic has been escalated because of a different false report dealing with the spread of the virus. Reports are often made about the virus’s rapid spread and its consequences, but oftentimes, these reports are speculative. They refer to potential spread, which is what might happen if absolutely nothing is done to stop the virus from running rampant. However, this is different from actual spread, the true rate at which people are contracting the virus. Reports of potential spread are speculative and dangerous. Panic comes from unhelpful, alarmist reports like this rather than from the virus itself.
Even Reputable Sources are Exaggerating
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) isn’t always contributing positive things to our society, either. I’ve recommended them as a source for factual information, but even they have succumbed to hype in an attempt to grab attention. They have advised people to watch The Walking Dead to prepare for the coronavirus “outbreak” and they even have a zombie apocalypse preparedness section on their website.
In his article highlighting the CDC’s advice to watch the walking dead, Sean S. Lealos plays into the hype as describes Hollywood’s depiction of the end-of-the-world scenario and tries to make it real:
“There are also cases like Lyme
disease, which Real Housewives castmember Ramona Singer contracted. That
was due to a tick bite. Yep, zombie-type infections are real.”
While we can’t control the reports that are spreading like, well, viruses, we can control our exposure. Think of limiting your exposure it like sanitizing and staying away from crowds. Wash your hands of online and local news broadcasting, and keep your distance from social media with all of its fear-based postings. Pick a source you trust so you can stay informed, and check in no more than once a day. You’ll be equipped with valuable information, and your exposure to harmful hype will be minimized. In other words, you’ll avoid panic, and you’ll keep your wellbeing.
Wellbeing During COVID-19: Choose Your Focus and Your Actions
We can’t control much of what is going on around us right now. (For that matter, we almost never can control what happens around us.) We can, however, control our own thoughts, emotions, actions, and reactions. That happens by being intentional about what you pay attention to.
Staying away from negative reports isn’t always enough. Choose what you do want to focus on, and make that an intentional part of your life. What is important to you? Continue to pay attention to that and to engage in activities that enhance your mental health and quality of life.
It’s possible that you might have to modify how you pursue your passions as events are suspended. It’s probably wise to stay away from crowds, so that’s okay. Be flexible in your approach. Choose to do joyful things in your bubble, and keep your focus and energy on these positive pursuits.
Be Mindful in Each and Every One of Your Moments
Mindfulness is one of the most important keys to mental health and wellbeing. It won’t change the chaos around you, but it positively affects your life, moment by moment. Panic happens when our anxious thoughts run wild and we are thinking and mentally experiencing problems. When we bring fear into our own mind and immediate world, we aren’t living what is real: our present moment. Pay attention to what you are doing now. When your thoughts zoom to societal mayhem, gently bring them back and pay attention to your moment. Your senses are a great tool for doing this. What do you see, hear, touch, feel, and maybe even taste (within reason) right now? Life is lived in moments, one at a time, and choosing to be present for them drastically reduces anxiety and fear.
Channel your inner Mr. Rogers for Wellbeing During the COVID-19 Scare.
As you’re choosing your focus and living it mindfully, who
is with you in your current bubble? See them as someone like you, trying to
calm anxiety and remain healthy. Rather than tackling each other for toilet
paper or getting impatient with the healthcare workers who are trying to help
us, perhaps we could all treat one another kindly, one person, one moment at a
time. This will ease tension and open space for positive action that will
If you’d like to, check out these other pieces I’ve written about coronavirus anxiety. They’re similar but different, each with unique information.
- Coronavirus Anxiety: 6 Things You Can Do Now to Stay Calm
- Coronavirus Anxiety 101: Worry, Fear, and How Not to Panic
- Anxiety About the World Via th e News: Reclaim Your Peace (This isn’t specific to the coronavirus but address the news in general.)
Also, my latest book offers simple, practical tips for dealing with anxiety and living well. Check out 101 Ways to Stop Anxiety.