Coronavirus Anxiety: Coping with Stress and Fear

— From our Outreach / Information Specialist, Ana Cristina Oliveira

Fears about COVID-19 can take an emotional toll, especially if you’re already living with an anxiety disorder.These tips can help you get through this stressful time. It’s vital to stay informed, particularly about what’s happening in your community, so you can follow ad- vised safety precautions and do your part to slow the spread of coronavirus. But there’s a lot of misinfor- mation going around, as well as sensationalistic cover- age that only feeds into fear. It’s important to be dis- cerning about what you read and watch.

  • Stick to trustworthy sources such as the CDC, the World Health Organization, and your local public health authorities.
  • Limit how often you check for updates. Constant monitoring of news and social media feeds can quickly turn compulsive and counterproductive— fueling anxiety rather than easing it. The limit is different for everyone, so pay attention to how you’re feeling and adjust accordingly.
  • Ask someone reliable to share important updates. If you’d feel better avoiding media entirely, ask someone you trust to pass along any major updates you need to know about.

Focus on the Things You Can Control

There are so many things outside of our control, including how long the pandemic lasts, how other people be- have, and what’s going to happen in our communities. That’s a tough thing to accept, and so many of us re- spond by endlessly searching the Internet for answers and thinking over all the different scenarios that might happen. But as long as we’re focusing on questions with unknowable answers and circumstances outside of our personal control, this strategy will get us no- where—aside from feeling drained, anxious, and over- whelmed.When you feel yourself getting caught up in fear of what might happen, try to shift your focus to things you can control. For example, you can’t control how severe the coronavirus outbreak is in your city or town, but you can take steps to reduce your own personal risk (and the risk you’ll unknowingly spread it to others), such as:

  • washing your hands frequently (for at least 20 sec- onds) with soap and water or a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • avoiding touching your face (particularly your eyes, nose, and mouth).
  • staying home as much as possible, even if you don’t feel sick.
  • avoiding crowds/gatherings of 10 or more people.
  • avoiding all non-essential shopping and travel.
  • keeping 6 feet of distance between yourself and others when out.
  • getting plenty of sleep, which helps support your immune system.
  • following all recommendations from health authorities.
  • focusing on concrete things you can problem solve or change, rather than circumstances beyond your control.

Emotions are contagious, so be wise about who you turn to for support. If you don’t have someone you trust to turn to, apps such as http://www.7cups.com/ are good resource for free, emotional support.

Resources

Mental Health, Emotional Support & Self-Care

Maintaining Emotional Health and Well-Being During COVID-19
Mass Support: Provides immediate emotional support and counseling to assist residents during the un- precedented stress of the pandemic.
Mental Health Resource Page
Client Guide to Teletherapy
INTERFACE Referral Line: Referrals to remote mental health providers who are accepting new clients.
List of numerous virtual support groups
Taking Care of Your Behavioral Health: Tips for Social Distancing, Quarantine and Isolation
Advocates Mobile Crisis: For mental health emergencies and screening call 508-872-3333.
Impact of Trauma on the Brain and Functioning: Presentation to better understand some of the changes in our thinking and functioning as we ad- just to the “new normal” of COVID-19.
ARC: COVID-19 specific information and resources for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Addressing Sleep Disturbances During COVID-19
Clear Path: Offers hoarding support remotely during COVID-19, 508-658-0880
The Emotional PPE Project: Free individual therapy and support groups for healthcare workers impacted by COVID-19
Massachusetts Network of Care COVID-19 Behavioral Health Resources
LGBTQ+ Supports for Seniors Through Bay Path El- der Services: Including a confidential support hot- line with voicemail at 508-573-7288
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 SAMHSA Disaster Distress Hotline: Emotional sup- port, referrals to resources, and COVID-19 infor- mation for those experiencing distress or mental health challenges related to COVID-19.
Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741

Other

Sudbury Virtual Town Hall: Town offices during social distancing
File a Civil Rights Complaint if faced with discrimina- tion based on race, gender identity, disability sta- tus or other protected category.