In the last couple of weeks, it has become impossible to go anywhere, read or watch anything, or talk with anyone without mention of the coronavirus or Covid-19. As a result, many people may find themselves experiencing an increase in anxious symptoms or in some cases even panic. Because of this, we wanted to take some time to provide you with some tips to manage these feelings.
You may begin to find yourself feeling overwhelmed with all of the information being presented on the news as well as social media. Because of this, one would be wise to limit their exposure to prevent information overload. Though social media can provide a way to connect with others, it is important to take breaks and “unplug” if you find yourself feeling anxious as a result. It is also increasingly important to ensure that you are obtaining your information from reputable sources as well as engaging in critical thinking regarding what you are reading. Some helpful sources include the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website (cdc.gov), Kansas Department for Health and Environment (KDHE) website (kdheks.gov) or your local health department. Though being informed is important, it is also important not to become too absorbed in the coverage for long periods of time.
Additionally, engaging in good self-care is even more important during times of high stress and anxiety. Self-care includes physical care such as eating regularly, eating healthy foods, exercising, and maintaining good sleep habits. It is also beneficial to avoid the overuse of alcohol, coffee, or other substances as these can increase anxious or depressive symptoms you may already be experiencing. Emotional self-care is also important and can include things like participating in hobbies, taking time away from distractions, finding reasons to laugh, and expressing your feelings in a healthy way. Try to stay connected with friends and family via phone or text or even write to or email them. Spiritual self-care can include spending time in nature, meditating, praying, and setting aside time for thought and reflection. Ensuring you are maintaining your routine as much as possible and practicing self-care can go a long way in managing anxiety and preventing panic.
Monitor your thoughts for distorted thinking such as catastrophizing, or thinking in terms of worst case scenario. If you catch yourself engaging in these types of thought patterns, it may be helpful to write down your negative thoughts and examine whether or not these are rational thoughts by examining the evidence that supports the thought Sometimes the most helpful thing you can do to counter these thoughts is to distract yourself and your thoughts.
If you find yourself unable to manage this anxiety, it may be time to seek help. Goodland Family Health Center offers behavioral health services or can provide you with other resources within the community. You may also benefit from speaking to your Primary Care Physician about your options to manage anxiety or depression. You can call GFHC at (785) 890-6075 to schedule an appointment.
If you or a loved one begin to experience hopeless or suicidal thoughts please reach out immediately. If you are concerned for your (or someone else’s safety) please visit our Emergency Department for assistance or call 911.
Written by Laci Leichliter, LSCSW and Hal McNerney, LMSW, LMAC