COVID-19 is dominating the world’s conversation. With constant updates regarding the virus, the mental health effects on Americans has been neglected. Many are aware of practicing proper hygiene but do not know how to handle the anxiety and stress that comes with a crisis like COVID-19.
The world’s response to the Coronavirus varies from person to person. People react differently to high stress situations and those who are at a greater risk to respond to COVID-19 are the elderly, children and teens, doctors, healthcare providers, and first responders as well as those who suffer from mental health conditions and those dealing with substance abuse.
Anxiety about the coronavirus, like people’s reactions, does not have one face. Anxiety can look like fear and worry about one’s personal health and the health of loved ones. According to the CDC, anxiety and stress from COVID-19 can look like changes in sleep and eating patterns, difficulty concentrating, and increased use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.
Solutions the CDC recommends for those suffering from anxiety about coronavirus are to take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories including social media.
“Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting,” said the CDC. When negative words are consistently being consumed, it is easy for the general public to develop fear. It is also recommended that it is important to take care of your body through stretching, meditation, eating a balanced diet, getting plenty of sleep and avoiding alcohol and drugs.
“Keeping a regular routine is important during this unpredictable time,” said psychologist, Dr. Jeff Gardere.
Staying connected to those close can help ease the loneliness from being isolated. Calling, video chatting and using social media allows for there to be a connection even though it is not physical. Over isolating can lead to bad habits like overeating, drinking too much alcohol and drug use.
Staying informed about COVID-19 will allow individuals to know how to handle the virus. The language used when talking about the coronavirus should be kept age-appropriate, if speaking with children and teens, and to just speak about the facts rather than using words that insight fear.
“Being able to talk in a constructive and productive way. Instead of being fear bound, it is important to share factual information to get through this time,” said Dr. Gardere.
Parents of young children and teens should remain as calm as possible to help guide them during the COVID-19 crisis.
“Let them know that one thing does not change and it is the love they have for them. They need to see us [parents/guardians] not lose our minds. We have to keep a rational mind for our children. Prayer, faith, and spirituality is important as well,” said Dr. Gardere.