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Coronavirus Anxiety: Why am I worried about coronavirus even though I know I’m safe?

Dr. Joti Samra

March 23, 2020

Resiliency

Coronavirus Anxiety: Why am I worried about coronavirus even though I know I’m safe?

Even if you’re living in an area with a smaller number of cases of coronavirus and your personal risk is relatively low, it’s still normal to experience anxiety. Coronavirus continues to be a top media news story and is at the forefront of our thoughts. There are a number of reasons a person may worry about coronavirus even if their current risk is relatively low. A large component is that the unknown and unpredictable component of the virus allows our imaginations to wander and leads us to empathize and see ourselves in the position of those who are in higher-risk scenarios. So, how can we manage our coronavirus anxiety that leads to our worry thoughts?

Understanding our Emotions

One of the ways of managing our emotions, particularly ones we feel don’t make sense, is to understand their function. All of our emotions – even those that feel unpleasant or seem negative – serve several important functions.

The Function of Our Emotions:

  1. Motivate actions that are essential to our survival (e.g., a fight, flight, or freeze response).
  2. Communicate to those in our environment that we are dealing with stressors and that we need support.
  3. Serve a self-validating function (i.e., they tell us that something important in our life is changing or is affected, and this helps us learn how to deal with recurrent stressors over time).

So, before we attempt to ignore or push away our emotions, it’s important to consider what our emotions may be trying to communicate to us. 

The Function of Emotions and Coronavirus 

When it comes to coronavirus, our emotions are likely telling us a couple of things. (1) we need to prepare in order to keep ourselves physically safe (action), (2) we need emotional support (communication), and (3) that we are understandably worried about something that is so unfamiliar and unknown to us, and where the potential worst-case-scenario stakes are high (self-validation).

Are there any other possible functions your emotions could be serving? Take the time to consider what functions your emotions may be serving.

In the case of preparedness, our worry is mobilizing us to perform a set of tasks to ensure we are safe. So, consider what you can do to prepare yourself and mitigate your risk. 

Ensure you have the most up-to-date and accurate information about coronavirus cases in your area and what your local public health authority (or the World Health Organization) is recommending. Right now they’re recommending regular hand washing and increased sanitization protocols, avoiding those who are sick and staying home yourself if you’re feeling sick, and limiting going out even if you are feeling well, to minimize inadvertent transmission and flatten the curve.

Check out our other article on coronavirus preparedness for more information and more tips on preparation.   

To learn more about managing anxiety when it comes to coronavirus check out our other article, Coronavirus and Anxiety: 7 Ways to Cope with Fear

If you are feeling like you are unable to manage your anxiety on your own, know that you are not alone in this experience. Consider seeking support from a mental health professional at Dr. Joti Samra, R.Psych & Associates. There is also the opportunity to choose virtual (online) counselling sessions from the comfort of your own home. Learn more about virtual (online) counselling here

 

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