This is a scary time for a lot of people.
Not knowing if we’ve been exposed to this virus yet, could we be inadvertently spreading it to our loved ones who are at greater risk?
With businesses closing, will we be able to afford to pay our bills? Is the government response appropriate, or are we having rights taken away unnecessarily? Is my child going to lose ground academically with schools being closed so long? Is there anything I can do to avoid getting sick? These are the thoughts that are keeping a lot of us up at night.
Fear during an unprecedented situation like this is inevitable. BUT- we don’t have to let the fear take over. We don’t have to let it disrupt our sleep or allow it to make decisions for us. We were not created to live in fear. In fact, the Bible says “There is no fear in love, for perfect love casteth out fear. Because fear hath torment. If any man feareth, he is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18. In other words, if you are living in fear, you are not living the life you were meant to live.
Of course, we should be smart. 80% of people who get COVID-19 may not have any symptoms. So you could conceivably have it right now. Don’t visit sick or elderly people. Wash your hands often. Disinfect common touch-points (door knobs, TV remotes, countertops, light switches, bathroom fixtures, etc.)
But being smart doesn’t have to equal being scared. Here are a few steps you can take to reduce your fears around this global situation:
1. Ask yourself “is what I am thinking true?”
“Is it REALLY true?” “What would be a better story for me to tell myself?”
I used to be terrified to fly in an airplane. I would have a panic attack, afraid that the plane would crash. I actually had to take medication to fly for many years. Until a therapist taught me to look at the facts. Of all the flights that are taking off around the globe every day, how many crash? WE only hear about it in the news because it’s such a rare occurrence. I would be far more likely to get hit by a car or die from cancer than I would be to die in a plane crash. So, was panic appropriate? No.
So, if you think “I’m afraid someone in my house will get this virus and die.” Look at the facts: if you are over 60, you are far more likely to die of a heart attack or cancer than you are from this virus. If you are under 60 and have no underlying conditions, your chance of dying from this disease is less than .4% For your children, it’s less than .2%. You are far more likely to die of a heart attack, or in a car accident, or even from a medical mistake. So is your fear justified?
What would be a better story to tell yourself? How about “There is a real possibility that I may contract COVID-19. But, I know that I am strong and healthy, and my body will be able to fight it like any other virus.”
Now, from THAT perspective, what steps would make sense to help ensure that my body stays strong even if I get sick? Well, I could make sure I’m taking Vitamin D daily. I can drink plenty of water. I can eat more veggies & less processed foods. I can avoid added sugar for now. I can take steps to make sure I’m getting enough sleep.
Having a strategy that makes sense for the actual threat instead of jumping to unlikely worst-case scenarios will do a lot to help you reduce fear & stress.
2. Use relaxation techniques.
Meditation is very helpful at calming your mind so that you feel less fearful. There are many apps that offer guided meditations. I like Breethe. You could also try yoga or deep breathing exercises. (Need a yoga program for at home? Check this out:
3. Try journaling.
Writing down your feelings can help you process them, and it gets them out of your head, so they aren’t swirling around in there, keeping you up at night.
4. Tell yourself you are fearless & relaxed.
Seriously. I know it sounds weird, but our brains are wired to believe whatever we tell them. So, if you tell yourself you are fearless, you will be. If you tell yourself you are relaxed, your brain will say”OK. We’re relaxed” and behave that way. I used to be a night owl, and I was soooo NOT a “morning person”. Until I started to tell myself a new story. Before bed each night, I would say to myself “I am going to get a great night’s sleep! I am going to wake up in the morning feeling refreshed and ready for the day! I don’t even need an alarm!” And guess what? Within a few days, I became a morning person! I still set an alarm, bu tI almost always wake up before it goes off. I haven’t used a snooze button in years. I wake up, get up, and feel energized! What you tell yourself matters!
5. Take a break from Media.
Avoid scrolling on social media or watching the news. Try to completely “unplug” for a few days. Read a book instead, or call a friend and chat!