If you watch, read or listen to the news right now, it is hard to hear about anything other than concern about the Coronavirus. While it is important to stay informed and to adjust your life accordingly, it can be harmful to hyperfocus on this topic. For those who have preexisting fears around germs, contamination, health and disease, the constant flood of information regarding this pandemic may produce a debilitating amount of anxiety. For others, it may be alarming and occupy more “headspace” than it should. There are certainly populations of people who need to be more concerned than others, but there is still a way to be prepared but not obsessed and panicking. This situation can also cause people to isolate and to avoid in person social contact, which can be detrimental to those who are in early recovery and need social support.
The In-Home Addiction Treatment (IHAT) Institute is providing a certification program to train individuals in this innovative treatment model. This model allows flexibility in terms of meeting clients in the home and being able to observe them in ways that traditional therapy and residential treatment would not be able. During stressful times like the Coronavirus outbreak, an IHAT team can observe, support and possibly refer clients to a therapist if clients are having significant anxiety and isolation symptoms. IHAT teams can also continue to administer addiction treatment curriculum and strategies to support clients who are struggling with a variety of stressors in their home or in the community.
The following is a list of coping strategies that may be helpful to manage stress and anxiety resulting from Coronavirus fears.
- Be mindful about how much information you are taking in about the Coronavirus daily and only focus on what is necessary.
- Set a clear time limit on the news (internet, TV, newspaper) and stick to this timeframe (ie. 30 minutes daily).
- Distract yourself with lighthearted and fun activities
- Watch something “light” on TV, read a book, look at a relaxing website
- Listen to a guided meditation to calm your mind down (Insight Timer app and other free meditation apps are great resources).
- Do not discuss this topic with family and friends who are panicking.
- Set boundaries if you have a loved one who is venting to you in ways that are hurting you
- Exercise and get some endorphins flowing
- Remember to eat regularly and healthy
- Engage in self-care activities that change one of your 5 senses and are calming for you (ie., take a long hot bath, get your nails done, do yoga, listen to music, etc.)
- Go outside and allow nature to heal
- Challenge your worry thought with positive thoughts and notice when your mind drifts into excessive worry
- Practice mindfulness in allowing negative thoughts to flow through your mind without judgement of them
- Be an independent thinker
- Take deep grounding breaths throughout the day.
- If you have too much time to think, create a healthy behavioral schedule for days that are open
- Socialize with healthy family and friends
- What we focus on manifests, so be aware of what you are allowing into your consciousness daily
- Moderate and find balance in the prevention actions that you are taking without become unnecessarily extreme
- Laugh! We have to find humor in all situations!
For those who are feeling debilitated and are struggling to function in their daily life as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak it would be recommended to meet with a mental health therapist to discuss those symptoms and treatment solutions.
By: Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC, AADC