This flu virus is a nasty creature. It mutates often. In its mild forms it attacks the cells of our nose and throat. Severe forms go deeper. It can damage our lungs, causing infections and pneumonia. The coronavirus, which is now on every continent except Antarctica, is such a severe virus.
Of course, we do have a regular flu season – each winter millions of people get it. Even with only partially effective flu vaccines, about 30,000 of Americans (or one in a thousand), die from it. The victims tend to be very young, old or have medical issues already.
Given this reality, why worry about this new infection called Covid-19? We worry because of how widely it has spread.
Most of us, having had seasonal flu, have some level of immunity to it. Not so with Covid-19, so the number of possible infections, worldwide, is billions.
The important question now is what can you, the person best situated to protect yourself and your loved ones against Covid-19, do?
The measures are simple -Social distance, wash your hands, space yourself about 1.5 meters apart in group situations, stay home if you are ill or immunocompromised.
Sadly…many more people will perish due to the global reaction to the virus (panic & anxiety) than the viral pandemic will cause. Think about it, MOST people in the world will NOT get the virus, those that do will be more likely to get mild flu like symptoms and recover.
The global rate death due to cardiovascular disease, diabetes etc will rise do to the stress that the global reaction is causing. So let’s all settle down a bit.
The entire world is affected by this thing and millions of people will be put in dire circumstances either financially, or socially, being separated or isolated from loved ones. To say the least this Virus is a bitch. Anxiety can really paralyse someone, distorts their thinking, and they can’t do anything they normally do because they’re so worried they can’t even sleep or eat.
When a global pandemic is taking up most of the media conversation, it can be even more difficult for people who suffer from anxiety to stay calm.
Here is some advice that may give some comfort to those of you who are struggling.
1) Avoid the (health-related) news
We all want to keep up to date, but when you have health anxiety the need to check and read the latest updates can become compulsive, feeding the anxiety. Try having a news detox, or allocating yourself a time limit for reading or watching news. If you’re really worried about missing something crucial, you can always tell friends and family to contact you in the event of an emergency situation in order to keep you informed.
2) Try not to seek constant reassurance
Seeking reassurance can make you feel calmer for a little while, but it’s usually temporary. Your brain creates a feedback cycle where you become increasingly reliant on reassurance, which only serves to reinforce the anxiety.
3) Introduce an absolute ban on Googling symptoms
Dr Google is not, and never will be, your friend, especially not when you are a sufferer of health anxiety. Nor will message-boards and forums. Try to remember that people visit these places when they have reason to be concerned. Once you start understanding it’s a skewed lens, you’ll be better able to put things in perspective.
4) Try a countering technique
Combat confronting thoughts with a rational counter-statement. For example, if your persistent thought is something like “Everyone I love will die from this virus” you can counter it with factual statements such as “Actually, most people who get Covid-19 are likely to make a full recovery, and that’s assuming your loved ones catch it at all.
5) Do some exercise
Even if it’s just star jumps in your bedroom, or shaking your body parts like you’re in the warm-up section of a hippie acting class, exercise will help get the adrenaline out of your system and channel the panic elsewhere.
6) Breathing and grounding exercises
From guided breathing-work to using a strong pleasant smell ( like lavender oil), grounding exercises can help bring you back to reality. You can look for examples online, but sometimes, something as simple as sitting on the floor can help.
7) Allocate yourself a daily ‘worry period’
Give yourself half an hour to worry about this to your heart’s content, and then you have to go and do something else.
8) Treat yourself
Anything that will give you a little boost can help. It doesn’t need to involve spending money: you can also cook yourself something nice, have a hot bath, or listen to a song you love.
9) Remember that your anxious state isn’t permanent
When you are in it, anxiety always feels as though it will never end, but it will. It’s hard to remember this, but do try.
Watch a funny movie or perhaps get someone to forward you some of the wicked humour that’s circulating at the moment. Laughter releases endorphins which counteracts anxiety.
And remember …THIS TO WILL PASS ☺
Kim Patra is a qualified health consultant who has been living and working in Bali for over 30 years. She now runs her own private practice in Sanur.
Copyright © 2020 Kim Patra
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