How to manage your fear and anxiety about coronavirus | Advice from Dr. Kathy NickersonNone of us was expecting this... the sudden shift in our world and the complete loss of normalcy caused by the coronavirus. As of today, much of the US is on lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and it feels like overnight, the world as we knew it is gone.

If you are struggling to cope with this time, you're not alone. Most of us are really shaken by what's happening.

It's in moments like this that we have to remember... we are strong people. We are resilient. Life gets very hard at times and we always find a way through. We WILL get through this time, this will pass, and life will get back to normal.

What's critical now is to do your best to manage yourself and your feelings. If you can stay calmer, you can lead your family and friends through this time. You can help them cope better, but first, you must become a pro at coping yourself.

To help you do this, I have put together a few tips to help you manage your fear and anxiety about coronavirus:


1. Count your blessings.

Look around at your life and focus on what you're lucky to have. Make a mental list of the blessings you have. Odds are that you still have a home, family, friends, and many other things to be grateful for. You can also feel grateful about little things, even silly things, like being grateful for Wifi and Netflix. Keep looking for examples of blessings in everyday life. Focus more on what you DO have and less on what you don't have.


2. Look for the silver lining.

It can be difficult, but try to find the silver lining to this situation. Maybe you've been really stressed out and needing a vacation... now you have one! Maybe you've been feeling like you needed more quality time with your kids.... ok, wish granted! Maybe you've wanted more time to work on your house or repaint the bathroom... now you have it. This may seem a little wacky, but if you can find a silver lining in this dark time, you will feel better.

The silver lining that I am hoping for is that this will be a reset for our country. That we will realize how much we need each other, how important we are to each other. That we must take care of each other and be kinder to each other. If that does indeed happen, then this struggle will be well worth it.


3. Go help others.

If you're feeling helpless right now, one of the best things to do is to go help someone else. If you are younger and healthier, drop a note in the mailbox of your elderly neighbors and offer to order groceries for them or go to the pharmacy. Reach out to a local business and ask if they need help re-stocking shelves or cleaning (anything you can do while staying 6 feet away from someone). Create a supply sharing Facebook group and invite your neighbors to join. Call a local church, hospital, or volunteer group and ask if you can be of service. Do whatever you can to help others through this time.


4. Take lots of walks.

It's easy to get upset and anxious if you feel trapped in your home. So make a point to get out and go for a walk every day, multiple times if you can. Walk around your neighborhood, head down to your favorite park, go for a drive and try a new trail. Get out into nature and change your surroundings, you'll feel so much better.

Now, if for some reason you cannot get out of your house to take a walk, take a virtual tour of a place you've never been before. Most of the major museums are offering virtual tours, so is the San Diego Zoo, Yellowstone National Park, and Yosemite.


5. Focus on what you CAN do.

We tend to get very negative in times of crisis and focus on what we can't do anymore. Instead of thinking about what you can't do, look at all you CAN still do. While you can't go dine-in at your favorite restaurant, you can order take-out (and please do this if you can, the poor restaurant industry is going to be devastated by this mandatory closure). While you can't go to the movies, you can watch a new series on Netflix. You could even host a virtual watch party: pick a show with your friends, then schedule a time to watch it together (them at their house, you at yours), have wine and popcorn, whatever you like. Try to make it fun and you'll see that the time will pass faster than you expect.


6. Savor something you love every day.

One of the most healing things we can do to cope with stress is to really savor something we love doing or experiencing. So, what's something you love? If you enjoy coffee, get or make your favorite coffee every day. If you love reading, indulge in your favorite book for 30 minutes each day. No matter what it is... fresh bread, painting, gardening, riding your motorcycle... do something you truly love and really savor it as you're enjoying it. Not sure what you love doing? Try to think back to a hobby you had in high school... see if you can pick that up again. Or try something new by following a tutorial from YouTube or Pinterest.


7. Make a plan for what's worrying you.

One of the worst things we can do is spend all day thinking about disaster scenarios and what could go wrong. Try to narrow down your fear and make a plan for it.

For example, if you run a small business, you're probably worried how you will manage cash flow, pay employees, cover fixed costs, etc. with no income coming in. Absolutely understandable and I am so sorry you're in this spot. So, sit down, write down everything you're worried about and then... go online and start researching some options. Check out the programs the small business administration has for you. Talk to a lender about a small business loan. Talk to others with similar shops and see what they're doing; maybe there's a way to partner?

If you are a service provider, like a hairdresser or a photographer, business has probably dropped dramatically. You cannot provide your service virtually, so you may be facing a couple of weeks without income. I am so sorry! I strongly encourage you to reach out to the small business administration for programs that can help. I would also encourage you to think about how you can use this time to develop assets for your business that you don't normally have time to work on. Could you make a YouTube video to teach people how to take better selfies? Could you teach them how to do a fancy updo? Could you develop an online course that teaches another professional how to do something you're really good balayage or photoshop? You could also use this time to create a database of new companies to reach out to and network with, i.e., local charities.


The secret to dealing with any kind of stress is to have a positive mindset about it. Being negative and thinking only about the downside will not help you. Please push yourself to think positively and be optimistic.


We will get through this together and YOU have a big part to play. The world needs all the special-ness you have to offer, so no more down in the dumps... make your plan and take action. This will pass.

Sending you big hugs!


Tags: general