By: Kelly Graham, MSW, RSW
Right now, a lot of people are feeling stressed, anxious, and afraid. We don’t know how badly COVID-19 will affect Canada or Thunder Bay. We are also unsure of when schools and workplaces will open, and when we can spend time with family and friends.
The fear that you are feeling is valid. We have heard about how bad this virus can be, and have seen in places like Italy, and now the United States, how bad it can get and how quickly it can grow. It is normal to be afraid of catching this virus or having someone you love catch it. However, if you are following what the government and health officials are telling you to do, you are doing everything you can. If you are washing your hands, practicing social distancing, self-isolating and only going out when essential, then you are doing everything in your power to try and not catch and spread the virus.
It is also important that people are appropriately fearful about catching and spreading the virus so that they take these proper precautions. If people weren’t afraid, then they may not practice social distancing or self-isolating. While we have heard and seen cases of people not following these steps, luckily it appears it is not the majority. The majority of people know to follow these measures and know how important it is to stop the spread now.
Sometimes this fear can become overwhelming. You may become scared to leave your house, even if you have to. You may even be scared still when this is all done. It is normal to feel this way, but you have some say in how much fear you let in. If you feel that the fear is becoming overwhelming or too much, try the following steps to control the fear.
Limit the News or Social Media. While it is important to get updates on what is happening, the media also portrays the situation in a way that heightens people’s fears to keep the viewer's attention. Follow and listen when you need to, and when you don’t, take a break.
Distract Yourself. This one you have probably heard a lot. Try to do things to distract yourself. Whether it’s watching tv, playing games, reading, starting home projects, anything to get your mind off of the fear. By distracting yourself, you give your brain a break from thinking about all of the “what ifs” in life, and stop your thoughts from spiralling which increases your stress and anxiety.
Know You Are Doing Everything You Can. This may be something that you need to remind yourself of daily. You are doing everything you can to not catch and spread the virus. There is not much more you can do.
Take Care of Yourself. Stress can affect your mental and physical health. It is important to make sure you are taking time to take care of yourself. If you are in better shape mentally and physically, then the fear will be less overwhelming. You can do this by trying to get enough sleep, eating healthy, exercising, practicing relaxation techniques, talking to a friend or family member, journaling, or any other self-care technique that helps you.
Know That It Will End. While you are doing everything you need to right now, know that you won’t always have to live like this. There will be a time when we can return to our normal activities. And it will be okay to do so. The threat will not be as severe. You can still take precautions (handwashing, etc.), but know that you will be able to relax again.
NWO’s source for all things relationships, mental health, wellness, lifestyle, and pandemic support. Kelly Magazine is a mental health outreach initiative created by Kelly Mental Health and supported by Kelly Mental Health Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the community in the area of mental health.
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