The increasing number of coronavirus cases around the world has created panic over the possibility of a global pandemic. News outlets and social media feeds constantly discuss the potential danger of the spreading COVID-19 virus, so it is understandable that people are freaking out. The toll on mental health in China is well reported, but unaffected areas are expressing worry with questions like “Will it come to my city” or “Am I going to get it?”
People in America have rushed to grocery stores to stock up on face masks, toilet paper, canned foods, and water. The news is scaring people into remaining in their houses to keep themselves safe from contracting the virus. All of this is common response to the outbreak of a virus. Not to create more panic or anything, but people with anxiety about the virus are have increased stress levels, which can weaken the immune system and make them more vulnerable to viruses.
It is human nature to fear the unknown, as was the case with Avian flu, Ebola, SARS, swine flu, and now the coronavirus (COVID-19). Some people have developed so much anxiety about the coronavirus that they cannot go about their everyday lives. Common symptoms of anxiety about the virus can include:
- Fear of catching the virus (even if it isn’t in your area)
- Difficulty sleeping
- Increased efforts to stay healthy
- Constant thoughts about the virus
If you are feeling anxious about coronavirus, mental health experts have suggested ways cope with this type of anxiety.
Prioritize Your Sleep:
We still have a lot to learn about the coronavirus, but one thing we know is for certain: people who maintain consistent sleep schedules and sleep 7-8 hours a night have increased immune response. One study involved spraying a common cold virus into the noses of healthy people. The people who slept the least were more prone to developing a cold, as opposed to people who slept more. If you have been having trouble sleeping, click here to learn how to improve sleep.
Take A Break From It All:
Between the news, social media, and regular conversation about coronavirus, it is easy to become overwhelmed. While you want to be “in the know,” it is sometimes necessary to unplug and take a break from everything. Gathering information can often become problematic, especially for people who are prone to anxiety, because the act of researching can increase anxiety on the matter. You don’t need to become a recluse and remain out of touch with the news; rather, taking a couple hours a day away from TV and online information can help you get back to center. When you keep hearing or reading about coronavirus, the mind automatically visualizes what it would be like to contract it or how you’d feel about affected family members. The mind gets a break from this when it isn’t bombarded with that information.
Talk To Someone:
The idea of talking to people may be the very thing that induces anxiety, but you can’t cut off communication completely. It can be very helpful to openly discuss your emotions and concerns with a professional, family, or friends. There’s no reason to put up a false façade! So many people try to look good on the outside when they are panicked and depressed on the inside. Talk to someone, even if it is over text, to help you process your emotions and gather support.
As we mentioned earlier in the article, people are stocking up on canned foods or foods with a long shelf life, most of which are heavily processed. These foods are not conducive to a healthy body or a high-functioning immune system. A recent study found that a diet rich in fruits vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein helped reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety in young adults. Sugars and processed foods suppress immune function and increase inflammation, so lay off the chips and crunch on some veggies instead.
It’s natural to experience anxiety in response to a global health crisis, but there’s no need to bottle your emotions up and live in fear. Be open about your anxiety, seek help, and care for yourself to keep your body as healthy as possible.