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Coronavirus and Anxiety: 7 Ways to Cope with Fear

Dr. Joti Samra

February 25, 2020

Resiliency

7 Ways to Cope with Fear of Coronavirus 

As the number of cases of reported coronavirus (COVID-19), as well as the number of countries with confirmed cases increases – so does people’s anxiety. It’s normal to feel anxious when faced with a public health emergency, particularly one that’s on the news daily and is associated with so many unknowns.

A little bit of anxiety is likely not a bad thing, as it makes us conscious about the decisions we’re making when it comes to our health. It also encourages us to be prepared. But when anxiety is disproportionate to the risk or begins to affect our ability to function it becomes problematic. So, how can we manage anxiety associated with an outbreak such as coronavirus?

Tips to Manage Anxiety about Coronavirus

  1. Educate yourself. On what the virus is, what the signs and symptoms are and the preventative measures.
  2. Keep Perspective. Though it is important to stay informed it is also important to keep perspective. Do not spend too much time checking the news channels. Remember to also spend time on other important and positive things in your life.
  3. Don’t inflate the risk. When something’s new and there are unknowns about it, it can seem very scary. This is our brain’s normal reaction to a threat (our fight or flight response) and considering the amount of attention a new threat like this gets, it’s easy for the risk to be inflated. Take the time to consider the actual risk to you. Read our article on Coronavirus and the risks to Canadians.
  4. Take precautions. Once you’ve determined what the recommended precautions are, incorporate those into your regular routine. Right now, the recommendations are typical flu protocols: wash your hands regularly with soap and water; stay home if you feel sick; avoid those who are presenting with flu-like symptoms; and, maintain regular health routines like sleeping enough, eating healthy and exercising.
  5. Stay connected. Having a support network of people to talk to when you’re feeling anxious can help to keep you grounded and remind you to keep the perspective you need.
  6. Use your coping skills. If you experience anxiety in other areas of your life remember to engage in the practices that help manage your anxiety levels, for example, engaging in regular mindfulness practice.
  7. Seek extra help. If you’re still struggling with your anxiety or experiencing panic that is affecting your ability to maintain your regular activities you may consider seeking additional support. For in-office or virtual counseling therapy, see our contact page to book a referral.

Final Thoughts

Remember that outbreaks like this happen from time to time. And many organizations are working toward finding answers to our questions as well as working to prevent the spread. Of course, being anxious is normal, especially if you’re in an area where infection rates are high, but remember to keep perspective. For example, in Canada, as of February 21, 2020, there are only 9 reported cases and death rates are low (source). 

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