First and foremost, I am not a health professional. I am not an epidemiologist and I do not have a degree in anything health related. My street credibility are as follows: I am a mom of four, a wife, and I have suffered in the past with cripiling health anxiety. I fiercely believe in advocating good health practices for my children, and I have learned in time how to control my unrealistic fears of health complications that TRY to run my life. With that being said, here is what I am do to combat fears and panic when a health situation arrives. These easy steps will help me deal with the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic (and will help you too!)
- Stay Calm. – Easier said than done, right? Most of you reading this are parents. You may be a mom that has little ones at home. Guess what? Those little ones look to you in these times for comfort and support. Maybe your kids have no idea what is going on. Or maybe they do. Kids can read your feelings better than anyone else. If you are freaked out, scared, or stressed; they WILL pick up on that. Your family is depending on you right now, and the biggest gift you can give them is not giving into the frenzy that so many people are feeding into. Your calm demeanor will be the force that keeps your family strong and together during this TEMPORARY situation.
- Stay Positive – When we are positive we are able to come up with solutions and act. When we are positive we are able feel empowered and in control. When I feel my anxiety or fear creep up I practice peaceful affirmations. Start off your day repeating these affirmations to yourself: “I can get through hard times.” “I am in charge of my mind and body.” “I choose to be positive today.” “I am grateful for a home that I will be safe in.” “Everything will be ok.” These affirmations will help you keep a positive mindset and make sound decisions for your family. As fear starts to creep up during the day, feel it. After you feel those feelings release them and repeat these affirmations again as needed.
- Control what you can control – The one thing that causes a panic when a difficult situation is presented in front of us is the sense that we have lost control. We cannot control this pandemic. We can’t control what other people are doing. Instead of freaking out and worrying about those things, only focus on what YOU can control. You can control your response to the situation by focusing on facts, and doing your part within your home and community. What does this mean? Come up with a plan for your home. Make of list of supplies you have, and supplies you will eventually need again. Talk about proper hygiene with other family members. Set a cleaning schedule for your home. Follow CDC guidelines and help implement those within your house. Have open conversations with your children, and allow them to ask questions. Take it upon yourself to stay healthy (take vitamins, drink water, do at home exercising). Whatever you can do for your family and yourself within your own walls, those are things you CAN control. You make the decisions for your children, and home. You say what you are comfortable with. If that means no visitors, that means NO VISITORS. Focus on these things, and as you realize the things you CAN do to make a difference, your anxieties will ease up.
- Stick to the facts– We live in a world, full of chatter, thoughts, and opinions. Social media is currently flooded with a slew of posts about conspiracy theories, fake news, and opinion pieces (I guess this post might be one too). But what you can do is focus on the facts from real professionals. Visit CDC’s website for accurate information, as well as the World Health Organization’s website. If you have to stay off your phone and turn off the TV, DO IT! You know the types of things that trigger you, and if it is the media- then avoid it. Sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves is make the hard decision to not spiral down the dark hole that the internet provides to feed our health anxieties.
- Follow guidelines – Health care professionals have given us excellent advice. Wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds, or use hand sanitizer. We have been asked to stay home as much as possible. Social distancing is important. It is not being recommended to stay home because health professionals think everyone is going to die. It is a matter of protecting those who are at HIGH RISK of contracting the disease. If we can reduce the spread and slow the curve of those with severe cases, then we can reduce overcrowding in hospitals and the healthcare system. We can spread the disease without even knowing it, or showing symptoms. That is why it is on all of us to do our part, and stay home! This does not mean panic. It means listen to the professionals that want to keep the peace and end the spread.
- One Day at a Time– If I can stress one of these points more than the others – it is to take it ONE DAY AT A TIME. It is so easy to be caught up on the what if’s of tomorrow. Get prepared for whatever you think your family will need, and then focus on the current day in front of you. If we get caught up in worrying about the next few months, fear will take over, and the vicious anxiety cycle starts over. Look at the bright side of the situation as you are focusing on the current day. Ask yourself these questions, “What can I do to improve functionality in my home.” “What activities can I do to have quality time as a family.” Slow down, and enjoy this time with your family. You will probably never be put in a situation like this for a long time again. Enjoy this time to focus on your family. Organize your pantry like you have always wanted to. Get to know your teen who is usually busy with homework and extra activities. Take a calming bath and spend time doing something for yourself. The list of things you can do during this time is endless. Make the most of it, and remember to think positive.
Stay healthy, Stay Calm! We will get through this!