CORONAVIRUS ANXIETY: LET’S PREPARE RATHER THAN PANIC
With the Coronavirus dominating headlines and news circulating about its rapid spread, anxiety in many people may begin to heighten. As with natural disasters, infectious disease outbreaks also have psychological implications and it is important to be prepared.
The first thing you might be tempted to do is to catastrophize. Catastrophizing is an example of an unhealthy thinking pattern where you believe that something is far worse than it actually is. For example, saying “well since its spreading, I’m bound to get it and become really ill”. That is catastrophizing. The key to overcoming this unhealthy thought pattern is to first recognize when you’re doing it and to challenge or scrutinize the thought in your mind.
Failing to control your thoughts can result in immense fear and anxiety. While it is normal to feel fearful in the presence of a threat, there is a tendency for that fear to be disproportionate to what is at hand. When this occurs, we begin to see fear based behaviors that can actually be detrimental. It therefore benefits us all to try and stay calm and not to panic.
To help yourself feel less anxious, opt to get news from reliable sources. Also, focus on the facts or seek out evidence to combat any irrational thoughts. Try to keep things in perspective. It may be helpful to look at the Coronavirus in the context of other illnesses to gain some perspective. According to the CDC, the coronavirus currently has a death rate of 2% worldwide, far below the 9% to 12% death rate of the 2002 SARS; though higher than the common flu in the U.S.
Another strategy to reduce fear and anxiety is to ask yourself what is the benefit of believing the worst case scenario. There is no positive purpose in doing so. Instead, direct your energy and attention on following the instructions of your local health authorities such as the Ministry of Health. Wash your hands, cover your cough or sneeze, stay home if you’re sick, keep surfaces clean and avoid going around people who are sick.
Be psychologically ready and Coronavirus anxiety will not get the best of you.
For more information on psychological support, contact the Department of Mental Health and Substance Dependence on 649-338-3613 in Grand Turk or 649-338-4737 in Providenciales or by visiting our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/TCIDMHSD or our website at www.gov.tc/dmhsd