Handling Fears During COVID-19
When information and responses are evolving rapidly, it can feel unsettling and many of us will feel some anxiety or fear as a result. People find a variety of ways to cope, but are some ways better than others? What are the best ways to help someone experiencing stressful feelings?
If someone is sharing their concerns, it is natural to want to quickly soothe them, but psychologists like Dr. Christopher Thurber suggest that we first respond by validating their feelings. Rather than brushing their fears aside, let the individual know their feelings are okay and normal with statements that begin, “You sound like you’re worried…” or “It can be frightening not to know…” Doing that reduces some of the stress caused by merely having the fear.
Next, Dr. Thurber suggests, focus on what an individual CAN or CANNOT control. For example, while we might not be able to control how rapidly treatments and vaccines are produced and distributed, we can control what precautions we take, such as hand-washing and social distancing. We can create regular daily routines. We can take charge of our health. We can let go of what we cannot control.
While we want to be aware of essential news and updates about the topic, a constant barrage of media can be highly stressful and panic-inducing. Constantly monitoring the situation can cause us to lose perspective. Rather than fall prey to rumors and speculation, stick to highly reputable information sources like the WHO and CDC for the latest news.
Finally, focus on our health and well-being. By taking steps to keep ourselves healthy and meeting our physical and emotional needs through nutrition, exercise, human connection, intellectual stimulation, healthy sleep, and self-expression, we stand our best chance of allaying our fears and maintaining our health.
If fears are too much to manage alone, teletherapy is an option that allows individuals to speak remotely with locally licensed providers. Grier students can check-in with Grier’s counselors and receive direction to further support services. We are all in this together.