Hi, I’m Dr. Mark Evans, psychologist, at Family Success Consortium. I wanted to send out a message to people with some basic strategies for coping with Coronavirus Anxiety and helping ourselves get through all the changes in the turmoil that are incumbent with a change situation. Dr. John ForSyth at the University of New York at Albany has been an active writer in coping with these situations and coping with anxieties in general. He has developed four basic steps to help deal with these kinds of situations. I’m going to review those steps with you. First, is to accept negative emotions. Secondly, create new routines. Third, Reinvent self-care and Fourth relate and communicate.
Tips to Deal with Anxiety During COVID-19
1)Accept Negative Emotions
So in terms of accepting negative emotions, this is the most difficult circumstance to try to deal with when we have negative emotions, we oftentimes try to shut those out or squelch those emotions. When in fact our best response is accepting the negative emotions and realizing what the source of those are. For example, that can be an element of fear and worry. Fears and worries are things that activate physical responses. We might have a rapid heart rate. Our G.I. system, we might change or shift. Those types of worries and fears can be understood and recognized and accepted. For example, we could say to ourselves, I’m having a lot of fear and worry here. Well, of course, I would have fear and worry because this is a scary situation. And so recognition of those negative emotions as being natural to our circumstance can be really helpful.
Getting into our Strategic Mind
Secondly is recognizing the thoughts that we’re having and what our thought patterns are. For example, we could recognize that we’re getting stuck or bogged down into catastrophic thinking. Catastrophizing is one of the things that occurs when we’re faced with difficult circumstances. We want to try to anticipate the worst case situation and try to plan for that. But sometimes we can get stuck in that line of thinking. That would be rumination where we find ourselves repetitively going over and over the same circumstance or the same situation without shifting into our ultimate goal. Our best way to help ourselves is by activating our strategic mind. So once we accept negative emotions, then we can have a much better chance at engaging our strategic thinking and our problem solving. Moving through via accepting negative emotions is a very effective way to get to our strategic mind. Once we’ve accomplished that, then we can go about being creative. Strategic mindedness allows for creativity versus rumination and negativity.
2) Create New Routines
So we’ve moved through that negative emotion. Now, we’re trying to create new routines for ourselves. Some of us our work circumstances have certainly changed. Our daily routines have changed and we’re trying to forge together a new routine, a new daily practice and pattern and creative thinking allows us to do that and when we are in our strategic mind. We can do that much more effectively.
3) Reinvent Self Care
Third is reinventing self-care. So we have to be very active and taking care of ourselves in these kind of times. That means doing a lot of exercise. For many of my patients one of the things that I’ve been hearing is that the closing of their gym has been a very difficult circumstance to cope with. Fortunately, many of them have been able to forge new routines in terms of their self-care, being active, finding new ways to get into routines, getting up, getting a shower, even though they may not be going out of the house. Putting on our daily clothes that we would wear on it like a weekday, for example, going out for walks, figuring out ways to take care of ourselves and be active in that process within the newly created routine.
4) Relate & Communicate
And then finally,we want to relate and communicate. So we have to be really diligent and active in terms of communicating to those people that we have contact with. Whether that’s face to face with family members or whether it’s through texting or gaming platforms, whatever way that we’re active and communicating and relating is very helpful to get through these difficult circumstances.
After watching this video and applying these tips if you still feel uneasy about what you are going through it can help to talk with a professional. They may be able to offer you alternative strategies to help. We at Family Success Consortium wish you all the best.