Manage Novel Coronavirus Induced Stress with These Simple Tipsby Carissa Andrews - February 15th, 2020
Despite the low fatality rate, the Novel (Wuhan) Coronavirus has sparked people’s imagination and stoked fears, regardless of where they live. Right now, the mortality rate is only 2%. The virus was first reported on December 31, 2019, so it’s still early days and it’s always possible for things to change, but until that happens, it does no one any good to get overly stressed out about it. Especially when you live in an area of the world with very minimal risk. Both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) are monitoring the outbreak closely. The fact is, while the coronavirus is bad, the US’s 2009 H1N1 outbreak still has it beat with over 265K hospitalizations and over 18K dead, and the percentage of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza is 7.1%. For example, in comparison to the flu, there have been 1,000 deaths associated with coronavirus – 180,000 hospitalizations and more than 10,000 deaths caused by the common flu in the same season.
Yet, despite the low risk, people are experiencing Novel Coronavirus induced stress and anxiety. What’s worse, with fears of a coronavirus pandemic, Asians around the world are starting to feel the pressure from discrimination and overall racist comments. Adding to it are biblical fears from the book of Revelation, which heralds a time before the return of Jesus where deception, war, famine, and disease will plague the earth. So, of course, people are tying correlations from this outbreak to End Times. This has even caused consumers all around the world to panic shop as they race to stores to stock up on rice, noodles and essentials like toilet paper.
Regardless of low mortality rates, the United States has even recommended travelers to “reconsider” going to China and other Asian countries right now. This, in turn, heightens the societal anxiety and acts as a justification for thinking things are worse than they really are. Of course, this recommendation also puts a strain on Asian airlines, who are already concerned they might face another hardship the way they did during the SARS travel slump of 2003.
The truth of the matter is, at present time, there is a very low risk for mortality and even contracting the disease. So, if you’ve been sucked into the coronavirus anxiety trap, we have a few tips you can try to reduce your stress levels and get on with your life.
7 Ways to Manage Coronavirus Induced Stress
The chances of contracting or dying from the Novel Coronavirus are very low. In order to negate the negative impact of stress and anxiety caused by thinking about it too much, we have a few tips you can implement right now. They’ll help steer you clear from anxiety traps, as well as give you some tools to help you the next time a new virus is detected so you can stay calm.
1. Avoid Too Much Media
By now, hopefully you already know that most media outlets—including the news—gets their funding through ratings. The more they can play up on people’s fear, the more viewership goes up and the more funding they get. Sensationalism is what keeps people tuned in. Your best bet is to avoid inundating yourself with too much media and instead, just checking into resources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if you need those updates.
2. Be Health Smart
Just like with any other virus, coronavirus is spread through contact. That means touching someone or something that’s been infected or being in the line of fire from a cough or sneeze. Take proper precautions to avoid contact with airborne and contact viruses. Keep reading for some specific tips on what you can do.
3. Don’t Overreact
Latching onto fear is a natural response to danger. However, not all dangers are created equally. Before you let the big, bad, and scary news lead you into a full-on panic attack, remember to take a beat. Then, take a closer look at the numbers. Any time an infection is new, it’s automatically scarier than an existing epidemic. For example, in comparison to the flu, there have only been 600 deaths associated with coronavirus – and more than 5,200 deaths caused by the common flu in the same period of time since the coronavirus was first reported.
4. Lean on Healthy Coping Skills
If you feel your anxiety spiking over the coronavirus, remember to lean on any of your past coping mechanisms—assuming they’re healthy. Avoid alcohol, drugs, or other substance related coping mechanisms. Instead, focus on ones such as:
• Movement – working out, walks, runs, biking—all types of movement-based exercises reduce cortisol levels (stress hormones), while giving you a nice endorphin boost. This will help you relieve stress and anxiety and gives you something better to focus on.
• Meditation – Take a break to calm your mind. Focus simply on your breath or find an app or guided meditation that can help you clear your thoughts. Doing this for as little as five minutes a day can have a positive impact on your overall health—as well as coping with stress.
• Talk to Someone – If you need someone to talk to about your fears, call up someone you can trust who can put things into perspective for you. That’s not to be confused with someone who will just agree and allow you to spiral. Pick someone who will challenge your thinking and help you to put the coronavirus fears to rest. If you don’t have anyone like that in your life, consider scheduling an appointment with a therapist to talk about your fears.
5. Think Before You Speak
Look, it’s easy to let things slip when you’re already anxious and worried. But when we don’t think before we speak, it can be upsetting to those nearby. For starters, kids pick up on adult fears and if you’re anxious, they likely will be, too. Minimize panic by refraining from talking about your Coronavirus worries in front of children. Additionally, be aware of the hype and xenophobia being masked as public discord. Racist comments, like calling Coronavirus the “Chinese virus,” fake posts saying to avoid Chinese products, and any other form of deliberate misinformation only makes matters worse. Fear and anxiety are the fuels for racism and we need to be careful about the way we speak and information we consume.
6. Consider Medication
If you feel your anxiety or depression over coronavirus is getting out of control, you might want to consider getting a little help from medications. Talk to your doctor to find out if it’s right for you.
7. Help Others
You might be surprised, but it actually helps to stay calm simply by helping others do the same. When you can alleviate fears for someone else, especially after doing some of the research on your own, it reinforces your own inner belief and helps you stay calm.
Stay Healthy: Coronavirus (or any virus) Avoidance Tips
Staying healthy when coronavirus fears are running high is actually pretty simple. It involves the same sort of tips you’d find in order to avoid any other pathogen. Here are the top four you can implement now so you can let your mind rest at ease.
1. Keep your immune system happy – A healthy immune system is your first line of defense against most contagions. This means eating a balanced, healthy diet full of whole foods, being active, and getting enough sleep. Remember to stay on top of your vaccines, such as the flu shot, too.
2. Avoid contact with sick people – It should go without saying, but if you can—avoid places where people are already sick. This could mean going to malls, hospitals, schools, and other public places. Avoid traveling, since airplanes in general can be full of sick people. However, if you must travel or go out in public, as most of us will, just remember to take the proper precautions.
3. Clean with disinfectant wipes or sprays – Staying healthy can mean something as simple as having disinfectant wipes with you when you go out. Wipe down surfaces like door handles, bathroom stalls, and even your car. If you’re at home and someone is sick, wipe down flat surfaces that are used frequently, as well.
4. Wash your hands – Germs stick to your hands, so be sure to wash them thoroughly whenever you use the restroom or feel you’ve touched something that could be a source of infection (again, doorknobs, etc.). Use hot, soapy water and wash for a minimum of 20 seconds. When soap and water is scarce, use alcohol-based hand sanitizers until you can find your way to a sink.
5. Wear a mask – If you have a concern about being out in public places, particularly if traveling or actively in China, put on a medical mask. In fact, many public officials in China are telling residents to do just that. However, if you live in an area where the chances are low, be mindful. There is developing concern over a surgical mask shortage and there’s no reason to contribute to it.
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