If coronavirus scares you, read this to take control over your health anxiety
(*By The Guardian)
A pandemic is fertile ground for those who suffer from anxiety – here’s a short guide on how to manage it.
1) Avoid the (health-related) news: Try having a news detox, or allocating yourself a time limit for reading or watching news. If you’re really worried about missing something crucial, you can always tell friends and family to contact you in the event of an emergency situation in order to keep you informed.
2) Try not to seek constant reassurance: Your brain creates a feedback cycle where you become increasingly reliant on reassurance, which only serves to reinforce the anxiety. It’s natural to want your loved ones to tell you things will be OK, but when you start needing that reassurance several times a day it’s time to take a step back.
3) Introduce an absolute ban on Googling symptoms: Dr Google is not, and never will be, your friend, especially not when you are a sufferer of health anxiety. Nor will message-boards and forums.
4) Try a countering technique: This is a CBT exercise which involves giving a persistent thought the courtroom treatment, by confronting it with a rational counter-statement. For example, if your persistent thought is something like “Everyone I love will die from this virus” you can counter it with factual statements such as “Actually, most people who get Covid-19 are likely to make a full recovery. “Just because you think something, doesn’t make it true.”
5) Do some exercise: Even if it’s just star jumps in your bedroom, exercise will help get the adrenaline out of your system and channel the panic elsewhere.
6) Breathing and grounding exercises: From guided yogic breathing to using a strong smell (I favored lavender oil), grounding exercises can help bring you back to reality.
7) Allocate yourself a daily “worry period”: Give yourself half an hour to worry about this to your heart’s content, and then you have to go and do something else.
8) Treat yourself: Anything that will give you a little boost can help. It doesn’t need to involve spending money: you can also cook yourself something nice, have a hot bath, or listen to a song you love.
9) Remember that your anxious state isn’t permanent: When you are in it, anxiety always feels as though it will never end, but it will. It’s hard to remember this, but do try. Be kind to yourself. It may be a bit cheesy, but this too shall pass.
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