Monday | 25 May | 2020
By Wilma Bedford
Panic and anxiety are created when a threat is overestimated, becomes unpredictable and the ability to handle it is underestimated. The constant bombardment from the media about the spreading of and lack of effective remedies against Covid-19 and the uncertainty about how our lives and finances will change, causes panic and involuntarily one’s thought turns to catastrophic consequences. However, we should take care to not become victims of an anxiety and fear pandemic.
Take the first step toward anxiety control by asking:
What is certain and steadfast? To gain perspective, remind yourself about what is certain, however small. Say to yourself: We will find a way to combat the virus, I am still healthy, a vaccine will be found, food is available, I still have friends and family. By being aware of what is certain, you maintain a certain measure of control and confidence.
Take control over that which is within your control. You cannot stop die virus tidal wave but you can take measures to protect yourself and your family and to support the vulnerable in your neighbourhood. You may have lost your job but you still have control over how much energy you are going to spend looking for a job online, how much time you are going to dedicate to networking with your contacts. You have control over how much time you are going to spend in front of the TV. Limit your exposure to the media to once per day and at all costs avoid news sources that make unverified statements. By focusing on aspects of the problem that you can control, you also take control over your anxiety and fear.
Make a gratitude list
Making an entry on your list every day builds resilience. It helps you to focus on the present and not on the catastrophes that might occur in the future.
Be kind to yourself
Get enough exercise, as physical exercise is a natural and effective agent against anxiety. Stick to a routine. Eat, sleep, get dressed at the same time every day; routine provides steadfastness. Avoid sugar and alcohol that could trigger anxiety disorders. Eat healthily to prevent mood shifts and to maintain steady energy levels. Take care of your body and dress neatly, even if you are not going out; if you look good, you will also feel good. Do stuff you enjoy and set aside enough time regularly to do so, for example reading or art or your hobby of choice.
Stay in contact with others. Make a point of regularly contacting others who are in the same boat as yourself, but make a concerted effort to be cheerful, uplifting company and avoid rehashing negative news. Do something for others: do someone else’s shopping or prepare a meal for someone who is ill, it will make you feel good and appreciated. Keep in contact with your work colleagues through digital technology. This is exactly the time to acquire digital skills and to practise them on your colleagues.
Develop your inner resources. Seek serenity in meditation and prayer but also don’t underestimate your sense of humour. Humour is a self-defence mechanism, particularly in times of illness, death and anxiety and becomes a binding factor in a society that is suffering. Laughter is medicine; it releases dopamine, the feel-good hormone that alleviates stress. Laughter is catching; laugh together with your family in your home and with digital friends, and in so doing alleviate someone else’s anxiety and fear.
Emotional Wellness- 4 Strategies for dealing with Coronavirus Anxiety.
Engelbrecht, L. April 17, 2020. Digger. http://www.diggerapp.oi
It’s OK to Find Humour in Some of This.
Williams, A. April 22, 2020. The New York Times. https://www.nyt.com
* All information was correct at the time of publication.