“The only thing worse than the virus is the anxiety,”Gov. Cuomo, NY.
The Coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is causing major disruptions, not the least of which is to our mental health. The pandemic virus has necessitated changes in our everyday lives.
We are staying home from work (if we can), homeschooling our children (with no training in educating others), we are stocking up on food and dry goods (if we can afford it and find the items at the local grocery store).
Accompanying these activities is anxiety, a sense of a coming menace, and overwhelming feelings.
The coronavirus is a huge unknown and when humans are confronted with an unknown, we often fill the void with our worst fears. In the absence of our normal social interactions, many of us can be left with our thoughts spinning in a worrisome direction.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help us stay rational, even as we deal with the stress of the coronavirus. In the last few weeks, I have noticed several clients, friends, and family members engaging in a common maladaptive thinking pattern: emotional reasoning.
Emotional reasoning tricks the mind into thinking what that our feeling is reality. It goes something like this:
“I am worried about getting sick. I feel afraid, therefore I am imminently threatened”
Emotional reasoning tells the brain if I feel the fear, then the feared event is about to happen.” For people prone to worry or anxiety or depression, these fears can feel overwhelming. Individuals can learn to use CBT techniques to focus on productive behavior, adaptive coping, and learning to find grateful or joyful moments as we confront the threat of the coronavirus.
Coping with COVID 19
Dr. Calbeck uses a variety of techniques to teach people how to cope: deep breathing and related breathing techniques, learning to identify maladaptive thinking patterns, changing maladaptive beliefs, developing and maintaining healthy behaviors, and learning communication techniques that allow us to receive and provide support to our friends and family in this stressful time.
During the coronavirus, Dr. Calbeck can provide telepsychology services. Contact our offices to schedule.
There are a few suggestions and best practices we have for coping with the Coronavirus outbreak and managing anxiety at home.
Tip #1: Get Regular Exercise
An important part of cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy is incorporating healthy behavior habits (if you have been cleared by your family doctor to exercise). Now more than ever, exercise can be a helpful behavior to incorporate into your daily routine. Research indicates that daily exercise can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression by nearly one standard deviation.
With most gyms closed, we need to be more creative about the manner in which we get our daily steps in, complete a workout, etc.
If you are able to go outside on a daily basis, use a fast walk when you are walking your dog, jog behind your kids who are riding their bikes or go for a run on your own.
Additional resources, especially if you are not able to leave your home, include videos (e.g., on YouTube, other platforms) for exercise. Almost every exercise genre can be found: yoga, high-intensity interval training, strength training, stationary bike programs, etc.
Do what you can to bring your heart rate up for at least 30 to 45 minutes every day, and you will be getting the beneficial effects of exercise.
Reduce your stress and improve your health all at the same time.
If you need help setting up an exercise program as part of your cognitive-behavioral plan, let me know and we can schedule an online appointment.
Read our next post in this series: We’re All In This Together, Apart.