I had a conversation with NJ Licensed Psychologist about what worriers like me can do to ease the stress in these trying times of Covid-19 Coronavirus. Thought I'd share it with you.
-- Keep in mind that many news programs on TV are designed to make you watch and can lean toward dramatization. The more scared you are, the more you will watch. The tone is scary. Dr. Weg says to limit the amount of news you watch. Check in to see what's going on, then leave it alone.
-- Find balance. Especially on social media. Watch some entertainment, read a book, play a game, have a conversation about something different. Don't make your life concentrated on 24 hours of news a day. That could lead to panic.
-- At the heart of anxiety, in general, is the sense of uncertainty and wondering/worrying about how bad things will get. If you look back at 911, many people panicked and thought that everything was going to fall apart. Or maybe you have seen one too many movies with a theme about the apocalypse -- movies that begin like the last few real-life days have been.
To combat anxiety, your focus needs to be on the present, not compulsively watching and obsessively worrying. Don't project on what you think the future holds. Remember that although each day may seem long and a bit scary because we can't predict the future, from what we can tell this is not a permanent situation. It will end at some point. And rest assured knowing that the best people on the planet are working on this issue.
-- Keep your head about yourself. Don't lose it, especially in front of your kids. Set a goal to be proud of how you handled this with your kids. You'll want to be able to look back and see how well you did. Like during and after Superstorm Sandy. Somehow you made it through.
-- Choose to come from a state of center, calmness, and optimism. Of course there is potential danger, but you know that you are going to make smart choices.
-- If you are feeling especially isolated and your mind is working overtime, that's the time to take advantage of your electronic devices to keep in touch with family members and friends. Reach out. Have a phone call to hear someone's voice. Send a text. Let your kids game online with a friend they haven't been able to see in a while.
-- Crisis equals opportunity in some ways. You have an unprecedented, unusual situation where, for the first time in modern history, families are huddled together in their homes and only have each other. Your kids will remember this. How do you want to paint this memory? Send everyone to their own corner? Or, do you want to come together and talk, play games, go for a walk. Consider this magic time within families.
-- The toilet paper effect. There's no reason this should be a commodity to be hoarded. But the psychology behind it is that it gives people a sense of control at a time when they're not feeling in control. It gives them a way to feel safe. It may not make sense, but snatching up as many paper products as some people can find may be their self-prescribed remedy for feeling less anxious.
Now is the time to think about your actions and how you will want to be remembered during a crises. Are you the type that becomes selfish? Are you losing your sense of community? What are your values? What kind of person do you want to be in these circumstances? Remember that this will be over one day. And your kids are watching.
-- Take this one day at a time. Don't think so much about the catastrophes down the line. Investigate your options in a calm and organized way. The world isn't falling apart TODAY. Don't waste your time freaking out about something that isn't happening yet. Get through today. Then tomorrow. Don't assume that the worst will happen. You will live miserably in the meantime. Have your plan in place, and then focus only on the present.
-- When you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, take a few minutes to relax your body and ask yourself 'what's the best use of my time right now?'
-- If you have faith, now is the time to lean on that. For example, prayer may bring you comfort.
For info on Stress and Anxiety Services of New Jersey, click here
Stress and Anxiety Services of New Jersey is an independent practice of psychologists in East Brunswick and Florham Park who specialize in the cognitive behavioral therapy of anxiety-related problems. They specialize in providing telehealth services, or therapy over the internet.
And thank you for your time and wisdom, Allen Weg, I know it helped me.
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