Anyone who’s watched or read the news in any form over the last ten days can probably tell you that there’s a lot of anxiety over the national reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here in Ohio, we’ve gotten daily briefings from the Governor’s Office about the state’s response to the spread of the virus, and new orders and directives every day on how to best keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. But those directives carry worry and anxiety with them, as we all collectively wonder whether there’s more to come in the future.
If you’re struggling with the weight of fear surrounding the coronavirus, our friend Dr. David Lowenstein has some helpful thoughts for you. Chief among them is simply taking a deep breath, as a means to help calm your nerves and reduce stress and anxiety. But Dr. Lowenstein also suggests the following:
- Recognize that it’s normal to panic: As human beings, we’re susceptible to panic during unknown and stressful events. Having this awareness can actually help to manage the panic because you know it’s not uncommon. If you already have existing anxiety, focus on the coping strategies you regularly practice when there are triggering events like this outbreak of COVID-19.
- Stick to the facts: Focusing on facts is a better way to judge the risk, rather than relying on peers and social media. Even with standard media, make sure the sources of your information are from trusted sources. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is an excellent and sound source for factual, current information, as well as your state and local health departments and hospitals.
- Focus on what you can control: Keep to your routine as best you can, while following the guidelines provided by the CDC, state and local health departments, and your local hospitals. Routines can be soothing because they are familiar. Remember to exercise, eat well, stay hydrated, and get enough sleep to keep your immune system strong, which is important to reduce the risk of getting sick with other illnesses (we’re still in cold and flu season) and to help manage stress.
- Remember that you’re not alone: Touch base with loved ones, family, and friends through your usual daily activities; if that doesn’t include in-person get-togethers, try phone calls or video chats. Keep in mind that everyone is going through this now. With everyone in essentially the same situation, you can achieve a sense of “we’ll figure this out together.” This mindset can be empowering and uplifting.
- Put things in perspective: The vast majority of viral infections are not from this new coronavirus; they continue to be common colds and the flu. Refrain from thinking that anyone who has a cough or fever must have COVID-19. The risk of serious illness from COVID-19 remains low. Most infected people will experience mild upper respiratory symptoms, including cough, nasal congestion, and a fever. As of this writing, more people have died from flu this year in just the United States alone, compared to deaths from COVID-19 worldwide. The CDC estimates that from October 1, 2019 to February 29, 2020, between 20,000 and 52,000 Americans died from flu, and predicts that at least 12,000 Americans will die from the virus in any given year. Consider opioids too, which were involved in a staggering 47,600 overdose deaths in the United States in 2017, according to the latest data from the CDC.
- Continue to enjoy life: The sun is still shining. Babies are still being born. People are still producing great work, including your doctors and health care providers who are continuously working to keep everyone safe as we fight against COVID-19. So continue to enjoy your life, and feel good when you follow guidelines to reduce your risk of possible exposure to COVID-19.
You can read more of Dr. Lowenstein’s thoughts on the subject here. And remember that whether you’re dealing with pandemic-induced anxiety or simply the stress of an ongoing family law matter, you’re not alone. Get in touch and let us know how we can help you.