There’s always something to think about, always something to worry about, always something to focus our attention on. If you are someone who struggles with anxiety, these sentiments could not be more true. Currently, the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, is on everyone’s minds. And this is leading to some serious coronANXIETY. Compared to most events or situations that take place in more isolated areas and impact a smaller group of people (e.g., natural weather events), this is not only a national issue, but has officially been declared a worldwide pandemic. In addition to this illness being a pandemic, it is very unusual for there to be a current event that affects nearly every person in our country, let alone the world.

As each day passes, we learn more about this virus, and the status of events or happenings in our everyday lives seems to change. This includes things that we may typically take for granted (i.e., the ability to freely go to work and school, interact with friends and family, go public places without a second thought of acquiring an illness or watching every person who coughs, etc.). Though the attention being given to this virus is extremely important, it goes without saying that the mass and frequent discussions, as well as the nationwide changes that are occurring in order to prevent the spread of the illness is only magnifying anxiety in those who typically experience it, and bringing on new bouts of anxiety (specifically health-related anxiety), obsessive compulsive behaviors, and paranoia – even for those who typically do not deal with these struggles in their life.

Strategies to Lessen the Psychological Impact

While there are many varied discussions that could be had about the psychological impact of this virus, and there is no perfect “advice” that can be given to completely alleviate the mass hysteria and significant increase in public health concerns and anxiety, this article aims to provide some strategies to at least lessen the amount of anxiety, stress, and paranoia that you or those you know may be feeling.

Psychological Strategies

  • If you notice you’re feeling worried or nervous, implement deep breathing practices. Deep breathing is an excellent strategy to quickly reduce nervousness as it can be done anywhere without any special equipment.  (If this is something you are wanting to learn more about, contact Tampa Therapy for deep breathing training.)
  • Identify what your specific thoughts (i.e., concerns) are and write them down.
  • Go through each concern and consider whether it is a realistic worry or unlikely to actually happen.
  • If the concerns are realistic, identify what aspects of the situation you have control over and what you can do to perhaps influence the outcome. (*Note-If your concern is about feeling unprepared, go back to the first strategy and make sure you have done what you can to prepare yourself and your family.)
  • If your concerns are unrealistic, or realistic (but something you have little control over), acknowledge that and move on by redirecting your thoughts and energy elsewhere.
  • If you have done all you can to prepare yourself and your family, and worry and fear are still at the forefront of your mind, do some things to distract yourself like watching television (and not the news!), read a book, exercise, cook, etc.
  • If you struggle with a cleanliness OCD (and perhaps were on the road to living a life relatively free of OCD-symptom distress), the increase in hand washing recommendations and cleanliness awareness may be triggering or feel like a setback. It’s important to follow the CDC guidelines to prevent the spread of this and other illnesses, but there is a difference between following the guidelines and going overboard. This can be a slippery slope for some; be on the lookout for a change in your behaviors, and utilize previously learned strategies and/or and seek professional help.

Remember: It is possible to stay healthily informed and prepared while not constantly and overly-exposing ourselves to the media frenzy.

An Important Reminder to Our Patients (Current and New):

This policy is our standard procedure, and we want to re-emphasize it in the wake of COVID-19: Please do not come to appointments if you are sick with a cold, flu, or other illness. Likewise, your therapist will honor this policy. This is to ensure that illnesses are not spread to clients, staff, and families and children at home. In the event that either you or your therapist is sick with a cold, flu, or contagious illness, or might be contagious, the appointment will *not* be canceled but you and your therapist will arrange to meet online or by phone at your scheduled appointment time or later in the week, if needed. For more information, please visit our contact us page. 

WE’RE HERE TO HELP

At Tampa Therapy, we are committed to providing a relaxing, healing, and non-judgmental environment to support you on your journey to mental and emotional growth and health, and during times of distress and unease such as in the present.  If you want things to be different, you have to change them.

If you are ready to start making important changes in your life and believe that now is the time for you to make that commitment, give us a call or email us today to start the process of getting help.

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