Community//

FEAR AND CONTROL IN THE TIME OF COVID-19

Living with the fear of getting sick with the Coronavirus brings anxiety, leading to worry about potential high-risk situations for yourself, elderly parents, children and the world. Some worry is normal, but how much is too much?

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Normal worrying becomes a cause for concern when you find it difficult to stop worrying persistently and excessively about various unrelated things; things like your friends, marriage, job, future, supper, or grocery shopping. Try to notice if your worrying is not due to any specific event, like your child’s online school assignments, for instance.

When this continuous state of worrying about everything hinders your functioning, you may want to get professional help and make some lifestyle changes.

Having a ballpark figure of your overall functioning: recent sleep problems or an increase in your anxiety, like hoarding grocery items, will help you understand that you’ve been pushing yourself for too long and too hard. Your go-to self-care strategies now need a boost. Taking some time to observe how you’re doing and identifying pressure points can also prevent it from happening again.

Still, in the meantime, your search for information to appease your worries never ceases. Devouring headlines gives momentary relief as it provides a semblance of control. You can share this information with your friends and family and take preventive actions, like using two face masks as per some recent recommendations.

Your fear becomes an adaptive response.

Instant feel-good measures like chatting on Facebook lead to immediate gratification; nonetheless, they increase your worries as you brood and ruminate simultaneously.

Another downside is that always being on the lookout for new information and waiting for breaking news can lead to hypervigilance. Your overactive thoughts can make even the most mundane things appear threatening to you. Here, catastrophic thinking or all-is-lost thinking patterns make you lose touch with reality by highlighting only the gory details. You fail to acknowledge any decisive actions taken toward keeping you safe.

But it’s not all bad. Keeping yourself well-informed is a step in the right direction, and sharing fears and information with your network. According to psychologists Edward Desi and Richard Ryan and their theory of self-determination theory, this strategy can build problem-solving skills, which leads to greater resilience in general.

Instead of criticizing yourself for not doing enough to keep your family safe, you can reappraise your newly-acquired habits like wiping the kitchen table too many times. Once you become conscious of overdoing a simple task, it can serve as a cue to your thoughts and feelings, which trigger your anxiety.

Perceiving danger in previously safe places or being wary of human interaction leads to many bad habits you may not even notice, like not breathing deeply and calmly you usually would. Taking some deep breaths will help you to face each challenge without overreacting and keep things in perspective.

You can also plan for feel-good moments, which can be an oasis at the end of a long stressful day.

Taking a step back and putting your worries and resulting behaviour in context can help you be less judgmental of yourself and your perceived failings and learn from your experiences. In turn, that will hopefully help you feel more in control – in a more positive way – in this world full of uncertainty.

This article was published in the Telegraph-Journal.
The picture is from Mind Matters A.S. Consulting; https://www.facebook.com/minMdmattersasconsulting/.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes and should not substitute for psychotherapy with a qualified professional.

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