COVID-19 (Coronavirus): 8 Ways to Manage Fears and Anxiety Around Coronavirus
1. Seek accurate information from official sources
Seeking information from official sources can provide timely updates and information that will help filter out what has been sensationalized by other sources. Limit yourself to reading information only from official sources like:
The Nebraska DHHS also has a COVID-19 information line, (402) 552-6645, which is available seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
2. Set limits around news on COVID-19
Try to avoid excessive exposure to media coverage. Constant monitoring of news updates and social media feeds about COVID-19 can intensify feelings of worry and distress. Consider turning off automatic notifications and taking a break from the news. Setting boundaries to how much news you read, watch, or listen will allow you to focus on your life and action over which you have control, as opposed to wondering ‘what if?’.
3. Look after yourself
Self-care in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak includes focusing on things you can control (like having good hygiene) instead of those you cannot (stopping the virus). When possible, maintain your daily routine and normal activities: eating healthy meals, getting enough sleep and doing things that you enjoy. Consider creating a daily routine that prioritize your wellbeing and positive mental health. Activities like taking a walk, meditating or exercising, can help you to relax and will have a positive impact on your thoughts and feelings. Connect with friends and loved ones through video chats, phone calls, texting, and email. It really helps to feel the strength of your connections to your friends and loved ones, even though you may not be with them in person.
4. Have a Plan for Yourself and Your Family
Creating a plan when you are thinking clearly can help manage anxiety and prepare for emergencies. Keep and rely on a list that can include needed food supplies and medications along with health care professionals and work contacts. These can help in the moments of stress when you may not be thinking clearly. Make sure to keep the items on your list stocked and replenished, and your contacts updated. It can also be helpful to not only think about how you can help yourself, but how you can help others. If you stay calm and grounded, you can communicate that to loved ones.
5. Talk to Your Children
Even if kids are not talking about it, you can broach the topic and create the space for questions to be asked and answered. Children can be surprisingly more aware than we realize. By not talking to them directly about something that is potentially frightening, you can increase fear and uncertainty in kids. Begin by asking your children what they have heard about coronavirus, how they are feeling about it, and what concerns they have. Children may need extra attention from you and may want to talk about their concerns, fears, and questions. It is important that they know they have someone who will listen to them; make time for them. Tell them you love them and give them plenty of affection.
Reassure your child that they are safe. Let them know if is ok if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you. Remind them that you and the adults at their school are there to keep them safe and healthy.
Discuss new rules or practices at school.
- Many schools already enforce illness prevention habits, including frequent hand washing or use of alcohol-based hand cleansers.
- Your school nurse or principal may send information home about any new rules or practices.
- Be sure to discuss this with your child.
- Contact your school nurse with any specific questions.
Communicate with your school.
- Let your school know if your child is sick and keep them home. Your school may ask if your child has a fever or not. This information will help the school to know why your child was kept home. If your child is diagnosed with COVID-19, let the school know so they can communicate with and get guidance from local health authorities.
- Talk to your school counselor if your child is having difficulties as a result of anxiety or stress related to COVID-19. They can give guidance and support to your child at school.
- Make sure to follow all instructions from your school.
6. Acknowledge your feelings
In the current situation, it is normal to feel overwhelmed, stressed, anxious or upset, among a wide range of other emotional reactions. Allow yourself time to notice and express what you’re feeling. This could be by writing them down in a journal, talking to others, doing something creative, or practicing meditation.
(Link for additional tips on how to relax and decrease anxiety)
7. Find a project or discover something to distract yourself.
Try and focus on positive things in your life. Use this time to find a project to work on that can distract you from your worries.
- Solve a puzzle or play a board game with your family
- Draw, paint, knit or do something else creative
- Try to bake a masterpiece dessert with ingredients you already have in your kitchen
- Read a book
- Take a nap
- Call someone you love and talk about things other than the coronavirus
8. Ask for professional support
Follow protection and prevention recommendations provided by qualified health professionals. If all of this does not help, consider reaching out for support by a professional counselor.
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): 1-800-950-6264, firstname.lastname@example.org. NAMI operates an emergency mental health hotline Monday–Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST. Operators can provide information about mental illness and refer callers to treatment, support groups, family support, and legal support, if needed.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): (800) 662-4357. SAMHSA runs a 24-hour mental health hotline that provides education, support, and connections to treatment. It also offers an online Behavioral Health Treatment Locator to help you find suitable behavioral health treatment programs.
- National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): (866) 615-6464. This organization has a variety of methods for you to communicate with knowledgeable people about mental health issues. In addition to the phone line, there is a live online chat option. These resources are available Monday–Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST.