The Mind Faculty
Managing our Anxiety during the COVID-19 lockdown
Updated: Mar 21, 2020
by The Mind Faculty
As the number of known cases of coronavirus in Malaysia continues to climb, the anxiety surrounding the pandemic will only grow.
The fear and panic seem contagious as the virus itself as our shelves empty of toilet paper, and more and more companies are giving their employees the option of working from home. While it is impossible to control COVID-19 on a global level, we can address our individual responses to it.
Why Are We Anxious?
The anxiety can stem from the uncertainty surrounding the virus: How long until we get it under control? Who will it infect? What will be the economic and social impact as consumers practice social distancing?
This anxiety is fuelled by endless conversations and newspaper articles about the pandemic, making it hard to distinguish between what is fact and what is fake news. We may be constantly checking our newsfeed to seek reassurance or get information, which can cause the pandemic to seem bigger than it is.
While the common cold is pervasive, it does not instil fear because we are familiar with it. It is the unfamiliarity of COVID-19 that inspires dread. As part of our evolutionary responses, we are taught to err on the side of caution when faced with the uncertain and unfamiliar, explaining the anxiety and fear surrounding the virus.
Taking Care of your Mental Health
It may be tempting to refresh your newsfeed, but you should limit the amount of time you spending reading things that do not make you feel better. Establish a window in which you can check in with the news. This includes reading social media posts and Whatsapps pertaining the virus.
To separate fact from fake news, check reputable health sources such as the WHO website.
Lessen the Risk
Seek information to take practical, actionable steps to keep your loved ones safe. When you arrive home: wash your hands, clean down your phone with disinfectant wipes and put your clothes in the washing machine instead of the hamper.
For people recovering from OCD, being told to wash your hands repeatedly may be triggering: question yourself whether you are washing your hands to stop the spread of the virus or is it being done to ‘feel right’?
As we move towards social distancing and self-quarantine to flatten the pandemic’s curve, you should have regular check ins with the people that you care about - especially those who are vulnerable to the virus such as elderly relatives. People who are going through mental health struggles may also find it hard to be isolated and cope with the additional fears and anxieties that may arise during this period.
Skype, Whatsapp or Facetime them. This can help to maintain a sense of normalcy, and provide a place for sharing feelings and relieve stress.
Mind Your Physical Health
Self-quarantine may be a great way to catch up on all your TV shows but it’s important to find a physical outlet for your anxiety. In lieu of going to the gym, you can find home workouts on Youtube.
If you feel overwhelming anxiety or worry, you can seek additional professional mental health support.
If you are feeling overwhelming anxiety or worry about COVID-19, please email us to see how we can help you. We are offering online therapy sessions for clients who are practicing social distancing and self-quarantine.