Managing Anxiety in the Face of Coronavirus

“When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.” 

~John F. Kennedy 

In every crisis, there is an opportunity. When we find meaning and develop sustained adaptability in the face of adversity, we thrive. We figure out what works, and we grow stronger. Those who face change and crisis with resilience and rise to the occasion create new meaning and abilities. So, as the Coronavirus outbreak presents itself, so does the opportunity to grow stronger as individuals, communities, and as a world. This all too recent and devastating outbreak has demonstrated our interconnectedness; it has highlighted many beautiful as well as destructive portrayals of human behavior. 

What then can we do to find the opportunity in the current situation? Well, we can practice research backed strategies to improve our mood, manage our anxieties, and bolster our resiliency. We can practice gratuity, work to stay connected with our support systems and communities, and we can find ways to improve our lives through looking for valuable lessons in the situation. So here they are, strategies you can practice right now to help you thrive in the face of adversity. The following strategies are listed in no particular order of importance. 

Strategy 1: Find Things TO Be Grateful For

Positive psychology, created by Martin Seligman, emphasizes the use of gratuity journaling and gratuity exercises to advance our ability to find the good in most situations. Look for what you already have and take the time to really notice it and savor it. When we take the time to see what we have, less of our time is spent focusing on the problems; it’s basic math. 

For example, since the outbreak of Coronavirus, I’ve noticed myself recognizing that so many things in my daily life that are simply wonderful to have. So many common conveniences, wonderful food and water, beautiful air and land. I’ve taken time to enjoy longer, more peaceful, and more meaningful walks in nature. Seeing grocery stores with even a decent amount of supplies is comforting. I feel that the current situation has spurred me to appreciate these things more intensely. 

Strategy 2: Look For What Can Be Learned And Changed

Don’t be afraid and resist change.  Allow the situation to change and shape you a bit. Not to take a hold of you, but to shape and influence you towards a better version of yourself in some ways. For example, my knowledge of pandemics and how interconnected we all are has increased, and I’ve seen how leadership, as well as all individuals, are responsible for responding appropriately when crisis situations arise. These lessons that I’ve learned during the short time since the news of the Coronavirus outbreak will prove valuable in my life, and I’m glad to have learned them. 

Strategy 3: Meditate 

One particular meditation that seems particularly relevant in period of high stress is the “Drop the anchor” technique. This practice asks us to drop an anchor in our emotional storm so to speak. The anchor does nothing to stop the storm but keeps us rooted as the storm passes. It is important to recognize that we do not need to fix the situation in its entirety. We need to stay grounded and calm so that we can make good choices for ourselves and others. This practice of dropping the anchor can be heard here: 

https://www.actmindfully.com.au/upimages/The_Single_Most_Powerful_Technique_for_Extreme_Fusi on_-_Russ_Harris_-_October_2016.pdf

Strategy 4: Stay Connected 

Find ways to build a group you trust within the confines of social distancing. Maintain the support systems you already have. Doing these things will reassure you that others are in the same boat, dealing with similar issues and doing their best to manage their anxiety and fears. 

Recognize any ways you’ve become more socially connected since the outbreak and how it feels to have that connection. For example, since the fast-moving news with the pandemic, I have noticed that I’m more inclined to keep in contact with those who are close to me. I’ve had more quick conversations here and there either on the web or on the phone. Staying connected like this helps us to know there is a support system within our reach. This will help meet our basic human needs for safety and belonging. 

Strategy 5: Find ways to Help Yourself and Others 

Through recognizing the discomfort of the situation and taking action to help ourselves feel as prepared as possible, we will be able to best serve ourselves. Preparing ourselves with a reasonable amount of necessary supplies is smart and also comforting; hoarding increases our overall anxiety. It is an anxiety drive behavior that perpetuates itself. It hurts us, and it hurts our neighbors. Truly, we are all in this together to flatten the curve, and save the lives of our mothers, fathers, grandparents, friends, and patients. 

Be well and continue to invest in yourselves by managing your stress levels using these five strategies! 

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