Do you have heart-pounding fears of the COVID-19 spreading to loved ones or to yourself? Are you fighting an uphill battle to stay sane as you listen to non-stop news of the epidemic escalating? Are you experiencing ever-increasing loneliness due to the isolation of social distancing?
If you’re nodding your head yes, here are a few ideas to help you through this difficult time.
Don’t Watch the News Obsessively
Turn the news off after you’ve gotten the latest update! Neglect to do this and the constant drone of the news will be the silent architect of your terror. So, do not obsessively watch the news. Instead, either listen to your favorite music or watch the abundance of entertaining TV shows and movies that we are privileged to have in our homes with a press of our thumbs.
Choose Your Thoughts
When life throws you a curve ball, what do you do? Do you imagine the worst possible scenario plopping down on your doorstep? Or do you close your mind, shrugging off all caution? Clearly, neither one of those paths is desirable. So, choose your thoughts consciously.
Decide how you’ll use your brain. When panic-inducing thoughts enter, treat them like nasty neighbors. “How dare you? Get out of my house. You weren’t invited. Scram, before I call the authorities!” Then go back to thinking thoughts that are good, enjoyable, and life-affirming.
Fake it Till You Make it
No one is so brave that s/he is not rattled by something. But instead of immersing yourself in your fears, become more resilient — even if you have to fake it for a while. Resilience is all about moving past your fears till you stumble upon your strengths. They may be strengths you’ve kept hidden for some time or strengths you didn’t even know you had.
Rather than staying with your panic, think, “What can I do to help myself? What can I do to help others? What can I do to keep busy? What can I learn that will not only help me survive, but thrive!” Perhaps you can develop new interests, new skills, new friends, maybe even new talent.
In times of great stress, it’s always best to keep busy, propelling your energy into something positive. If you have kids at home, there’s plenty to do. But if you’re home alone, you may think, what is there to do? Trust me, there’s always something to do. How about contacting old friends? Or learning a new skill such as yoga or meditation? Or tending to mundane tasks you’ve avoided — like cleaning closets or organizing papers? Or starting to cook once again? Though you may need a kick in the butt to get going, you’ll feel pleased with yourself once you’ve done it.
Unlearn What You’ve Already Learned
Unless you were born yesterday, you’ll need to unlearn some behaviors that bring on your fears. Yes, it’s hard to do. You may wish for an easier solution — like taking your brain out of your skull — washing it down with an antiseptic that prevents fears from adhering to it — then returning your fresh clean brain back into your skull. But so much for fantasy! Now it’s time for reality.
Be patient with yourself. You can conquer your fears. If at first you don’t succeed, try reading this article again. Though conquering fear is difficult, it’s not impossible. Like many success stories, however, it may seem impossible — until you do it! So, don’t give up on yourself. Take one step at a time like a toddler learning how to walk. You’ll fall. You’ll wail. You’ll pick yourself up. You’ll repeat the process. One day soon, you’ll look fear in the face and tell it to get on its way! Then you’ll enjoy the gift of your day.