With the coronavirus crisis accelerating, we are bombarded with new developments daily and even hourly. We don’t know what to expect and listen intently to any new development, focusing on what the experts tell us to do to keep safe. The unknown, and the volatility of the situation, keeps us on edge, wondering what’s coming tomorrow. This situation can make us feel afraid, overwhelmed, and helpless. While the threat is real, panic and having our emotions run amok will make the situation even worse.
Here are some things we can do to take control and manage our reactions in this difficult time:
Name our emotions
While we are likely feeling some apprehension, keeping it bottled up and denying it only makes it worse. We know that putting our feelings out there helps us to manage them as speaking them out loud lessens their impact on us. It also helps us connect and share with others who are feeling the same way. This normalizes what we are feeling and helps us feel connected and supported.
Support children in navigating their emotions
Children’s feelings are real, and as adults, we can help by respecting them. While we are struggling with our emotions, we will also need to help navigate theirs. While we don’t have to share everything, such as our worst fears, keeping everything from them is detrimental. If they sense that we have fears that we are not sharing, it will only increase their level of anxiety. At this time, we need to be authentic and manage our own emotions.
Focus on what we can control
While there is much out there that is beyond our control, there is a great deal that we can do to alleviate unnecessary risk. We can take back some level of control by staying focused on the areas that we are able to manage in our own lives and those of our families, friends, and communities. Talk to those close to you to see what you can do to help. Simple ideas like taking turns shopping lessens the number of people that have to be exposed. An added benefit is that by doing this we strengthen our connections.
Get news and updates from reliable sources
During these times, the rumor mills are in overdrive and we may hear all kinds of terrifying things that will create unnecessary stress and fear. We can stop the spread of this damaging misinformation by not engaging. By only accepting information from medical experts, we can do our part to tamp down the panic.
Make creative use of our time in isolation
While those who are infected may be quarantined, many of us will be social distancing and be alone more than we’re used to. This is a good time to reach out to Aunt Norma, Uncle George, or that friend you haven’t talked to in a long time. Email, text, or better still, call them to hear their voice. This helps break the feeling of isolation and feelings of being alone.
Have you wanted to learn to play an instrument, read that book, write that blog, or learn a new language? This would be a great time to get started. It will help you take the focus off of what is going on around you, help you take back some control, and feel the satisfaction of learning something new.
Finally, additional stressors deplete our immune systems. We need to keep our bodies strong and healthy more than ever before. So, let’s try to lower our anxiety levels. Consider meditation, release tensions by going for a walk outdoors, think of the spring blossoms arriving soon, and have gratitude for our here and now blessings. We have so much to be thankful for . . . embrace those thoughts, and our immune systems will thank us for it.