Consider the following story as it relates to this week’s topic.
It’s been about six days since my boyfriend and I have been outside. The first couple of days were fine, fun even. We watched a few movies, played some games, and even had a few drinks. But things are definitely changing now. I’ve been on social media almost non-stop, reading about all the new cases, the deaths, the economy, and everything else related to the virus. I’m a puddle of anxiety, convinced I will be the next to get sick. My boyfriend, on the other hand, is on the complete opposite side of the spectrum. At times he’s optimistic or dubious about what we hear on the news. He can’t wait to get out! Whereas, I want to avoid people at all cost. It’s strange how we react so differently to these events. Perhaps we’re just bored?
The COVID-19 outbreak has had effects on our society unlike anything any of us have ever seen before. It has claimed lives, brought the world’s most powerful nations to a standstill, and forced us to isolate for the sake of those we love and care about. This isolation has brought endless reactions and effects to the forefront, many of which are very difficult and tiring to deal with. At Rice Psychology Group, we recognize this period of uncertainty can wreak havoc on your mental health.
A Sense of Wanting Out, Invincibility, and Media Mistrust
Since the almost-worldwide lockdown began, news anchors, celebrities, and practically everyone in between, have urged the public to stay indoors. They often say it’s temporary, for our own benefit, and to help the countless healthcare professionals trying to keep everyone healthy. Yet, despite the pleas, boredom still sets in, making many people want out of isolation. I’ve heard some say that need to expose ourselves to the virus in order to develop the antibodies to support future immunity. Some claim the “flu-like” illness is nothing to be scared about. These people are highly optimistic and tend to underestimate the health and risks this novel virus poses.
Other members of the public are still largely skeptical of the media, the World Health Organization, and even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Perhaps it has to do with the way past events have played out (remember Y2K?), or the way many world leaders reacted when the news of the virus first broke out, or their political leanings. Whatever the case, it’s important to remember that boredom, and even the feeling of invincibility, is human nature and just as prevalent as the overwhelming sense of worry.
The Ever-Growing Feelings of Anxiety
The truth of the matter is, these are terrifying times. It’s no surprise there’s a comprehensive feeling of stress and anxiety lingering above entire nations! Many of us worry about contracting the virus, stress out about our family’s safety, and freeze at the thought of losing our jobs due to a potential economic collapse. To top things off, not even the world’s leading experts know when this is all going to come back to normal. We could all benefit with some normalcy in our lives and we believe the following are perhaps the most important ways to start dialing back the anxiety:
- Watch Your Media Intake – It’s completely normal to want to check on the news and keep up with developing stories every day. However, if you’re keeping a spreadsheet of all the new cases in your area, you’re going to overwhelm yourself. We recommend you consume news and social media for 30 minutes to about an hour each morning and/or evening to avoid any more unnecessary anxiety.
- Focus on the Positives- Start with writing down what you are grateful for each day. Carve out a time, perhaps in the morning with your coffee or tea, to jot down 3 positive things that happened the day before and 3 things that you are grateful for. An example from my life might look something along these lines: Yesterday, I had 4x the number of people attend our first Virtual Parent Clubhouse than attended our in-person meetings; a fellow horse owner gave one of my horses his medicine yesterday so that I didn’t have to travel out to the farm to do it myself; I had a delicious dinner. I am grateful for finally arranging to have my internet speed increased (Yay!!); my friends and colleagues with whom I’m staying connected, and my patients for allowing me to continue to support them through online sessions during this time.
- Find the Good News – Yes, your favorite news outlet may be saturated with COVID-19 chatter, but maybe it’s time to switch things up! Skip over the negative headlines (mute the TV, fast forward, skip the depressing links! Finding the positive in the world is likely to help you feel better and might even inspire you to take some positive action. Positivity, as well as negativity, is as contagious as COVID-19!
- it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t reach out to all those people in your life that make you feel good. Doing so can provide you with comfort and purpose, two of the most important things you need in this day and age.
There’s no denying that times are tough, but even when they are, Rice Psychology Group is here to help. Whether you’re not feeling yourself lately, or worried about a family member or friend, our Tampa psychologists can make a difference. If you’re ready to feel better, schedule your appointment today, without having to leave your home! Contact our Tampa offices today for more information.