Mindfulness techniques to deal with coronavirus worry at home and work
Try these techniques to help calm your mind during uncertain times.
What is coronavirus?
Of all the newsworthy events that have happened so far in the new year, there’s one word that is now at the center of the daily news — coronavirus. Coronaviruses are actually a large family of viruses. They can range from the common cold to more severe diseases. This one in particular has been getting a lot of attention because it’s a new virus. It causes a disease called COVID-19.
The constant alerts in the news can leave you with a lot of questions. Should I really be scared of the virus? What should I do to prepare? How will this affect my business? Maybe you’re preparing for yourself and your family. Or you’re an employer wondering how to prepare your teams. In either case, there’s a lot you can do to cope.
Mindfulness can be especially helpful now. You can learn how the brain works in these types of situations and train yourself how to calmly and rationally act.
Should we be afraid of coronavirus?
Ever since the spread of coronavirus was first reported from Wuhan, China, on Dec. 31, 2019, we have watched the virus cross the borders of multiple countries. The number of infected countries continues to climb. The World Health Organization (WHO) has labeled this outbreak as a pandemic. Many feel anxious about it.
The most common symptoms are fever, tiredness and a dry cough. Some people may have other symptoms, while some don't have any at all. Most people get better without needing special care.
To help keep your mind at ease, know when to call the doctor. You'll also want to know how to keep COVID-19 from spreading. Call your doctor, urgent care clinic or ER if you have:
- Trouble breathing
They will tell you if you need to come in. If you feel sick, even with mild symptoms, stay home. And, be sure to keep away from others in your household until you get better.
How your brain views the coronavirus
The brain’s “fight or flight” response is designed to protect you from potentially dangerous situations. But it can also stir up anxious thoughts.
So, why does your brain fixate on the coronavirus when the regular flu season has affected so many more people? The flu is familiar to us. We know how to handle it. New viruses like COVID-19 can be a little scarier than an existing virus. All of that uncertainty can make it easy for your brain to latch onto anxious thoughts and spiral.
It’s good to have awareness of what’s going on. Take a moment to think about your worried thoughts and feelings. Ask yourself whether your thoughts are fact-based or not. Understanding the difference can help you stay calm until you gather more information.
Limit how much news you watch
Most of us have at least one screen in front of us for most of the day. It’s easy to fall into one of two camps. Some people watch and read everything they can find about the coronavirus. Others ignore it all altogether to focus on “happier” things. Both ways are valid when there’s a new virus spreading. But you can mindfully merge both camps into a calmer middle ground.
Getting information and updates about the coronavirus is important. But you may want to steer clear of programs designed to stir up panic and anxiety. So, limit yourself to fact-based government websites. Doing so can help you stay in the know without triggering worry.
These resources include:
Tips for making a plan
An important part of mindfulness is accepting things as they are, but choosing how to react to them. You can do the same with the current situation. You can’t change that the coronavirus has spread. But you can choose how you react to it. Doing so can help you react calmly with confidence.
Planning at home
- Stock up on medicines and food to limit time spent in public spaces.
- Use the latest government guidelines if family members show symptoms.
- Have open, safe discussions with family members. Help everyone feel safe sharing their feelings.
Planning for the workplace
- Companies can take care of their teams by having plans in place for working remotely. They can also encourage the use of sick days.
- If you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a napkin or tissue instead of your hand.
- Use alcohol wipes to sanitize your workspace, phone and any other devices you touch.
- Don’t touch your face with your hands.
Stay calm (and aware)
It’s difficult to turn a blind eye to the panicked responses to the coronavirus across the globe. But approaching the situation mindfully can help you cope and plan calmly and rationally. Know that your mind will want to “go down the rabbit hole” with worry.
Focus on your thoughts and feelings about the situation. This is the best way to keep yourself and everyone around you safe during this unique flu and illness season.
- World Health Organization, who.int
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cdc.gov
The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs.