Coronavirus anxiety: Taking care of your mental health amid the spread of COVID-19


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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Everyday more and more dizzying news about the coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19, breaks.

From the ever growing number of cases worldwide and in the U.S., to the stock market’s erratic fluctuations, to well-known public figures like Tom Hanks testing positive for the disease, it seems impossible to maintain a clear head during what is now classified as a global pandemic.

Everyone is told to keep up with proper personal hygiene and wash their hands regularly, but the same needs to be said for our collective mental health.

For many Americans, in our efforts to stay healthy and fit, our mental health can often go overlooked. The American Psychological Association defines anxiety as an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worry or unease which can be triggered by and result in a loss of control.

Taking care of yourself / Focus on what you can control

The University of California at Berkeley released a guide with steps everyone should consider to help maintain their mental health during the growing pandemic.

  • Know the facts – It is important to stay informed with the most up to date information on COVID-19. Make sure to regularly educate yourself with the newest information from sources like the Center for Disease Control or the World Health Organization for the more reliable updates. That being said, the amount of information flooding in from various sources can seem daunting, which goes into the next step…
  • Keep things in perspective – It is important to take active steps to limit worry and agitation, and an easy way to do that is to measure out the amount of media coverage on the virus you consume. It is vital to stay informed but remember to take time to step away from the news and focus on things in your life that are positive and that you have control over.
  • Be mindful – Take time to check your assumptions of those around you. Just because someone has a cough or a sneeze does not mean they have contracted COVID-19. Self awareness can go a long way to reducing the stigmatization of those around us and in turn mitigate widespread feelings of panic.
  • Stay healthy – Following a regular routine of proper hygiene can go a long way to restoring that sense of control to mitigate coronavirus-related anxiety. Wash your hands regularly, avoid touching your face and avoid contact with others who are sick.
  • Stay connected – As the virus spreads it can seem like everything in life is flipped around. Staying connected to social networks can help in keeping a sense of normalcy. It is also important to have an outlet where you can share feelings and relieve stress. There are many online forums dedicated to helping people suffering from anxiety related to the coronavirus such as the reddit community r/coronavirus_anxiety.
  • Seek additional help – It is always a good idea for anyone feeling overwhelmed to reach out to your medical provider find additional mental health support.

While we all continue to fare the growing spread of COVID-19 together, making sure those around you are supported is just as important as your own mental health. Reach out to those around you and act as a calming influence. Becoming a positive uplifting source of comfort can help make you more secure about your own mental health.

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