Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Panicking about the Corona virus? Here's how to manage the anxiety



The news is full of it and people are stripping supermarket shelves of food and loo paper. If you're anxious, here are some tips on how to regain your balance.

Take a long, slow breath. When you are panicky, your body reacts instinctively by gearing up for action.  It hits a programmed pattern nicknamed fight or flight mode that is designed for times of trouble. Basically, your body prepares you for running away very fast or for bashing an enemy.   

What happens? Your breath speeds up so you suck in more oxygen and your heart speeds up so your blood runs through your veins faster. That combo helps deliver powerful oxygen to your muscles.

At the same time, your brain floods you with chemicals that make you super alert. And as a kicker, some non-essential systems shut down temporarily - like your digestion.

If you've going into a fight, this is super awesome because you're alert, strong and focussed.

If it's a false alarm, you have to stand down. You'll feel breathless, sweaty and your stomach may be upset.

If you do it off and on all day long, your body soon gets into a right old mess.

So, step one is to take a long, slow breath. Focus on calming down your breathing.

Look at something pleasant or soothing. You need to get out of flight or fight mode, so force your attention to happy stuff. Like Tic Tac and Target here.




Or perhaps you prefer a mountain scene. Whatever makes you smile and feel peaceful, train your thoughts on it.

Self soothe with a mantra of common sense. While it is sensible to be cautious about disease, panic doesn't do you any good. So it's important to reassure yourself of some basics.

People love panic. Panic is exciting, it livens up a dull day, and it gets you attention. So whether they mean to or not, people will be encouraging focus on the issue.

Panic sells. Newspapers, tv programmes and businesses are fueled by interest and panic is lots of interest. So whether they mean to or not, they will be encouraging focus on the issue.

Most of the panic is 'what might be' and not 'what is'. Speculation can look like helpful preparation but you should be asking yourself, what exactly could I contribute in a global apocalypse? If the answer is not very much, then there's no point in running around in a panic.

Reach out to people you love. Connecting with others will give you a lift and remind you of the good things in life. Call a friend, eat with your family (if you like them!) and play with your pets and kids. Also spend time on your favourite hobby. Or have sex. That's always a pick me up.

Focus on sensible advice. Wash your hands a bit more and be sensible about your health. If you think updates are useful, opt for a single daily update from a health information resource you trust, like a local hospital or government health ministry.

In short:

Take a long slow breath
Acknowledge that everyone is upset
Switch off from the constant focus
Limit yourself to a single update from a health resource you trust
And spend time on activities you love