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Living Well

COVID-19: How to Escape the Pandemic of Fear

Last updated: Mar 24, 2020


The coronavirus pandemic has caused significant fear amongst many. People have been stockpiling items like toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and non-perishable goods out of fear of quarantine or shortages. Businesses and schools have been forced to close their doors, and people are scared. It’s clear. The amount of fear and anxiety surrounding COVID-19 can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in many. 

According to James Korman, PsyD, FACBT, Director of the Behavioral Health and Cognitive Therapy Center at Summit Medical Group, “It’s okay and normal to feel anxious, as long as it doesn’t cause distress that makes it difficult for you to accomplish necessary tasks.” He adds, “Anxiety is fear of what is going to happen in the future and the feeling that we will not be able to cope.” To ease some of that, Dr. Korman recommends gathering as much reliable information as possible. “Possession of the facts, staying focused on the present, recognizing that you will handle whatever takes place, along with guidance from public health professionals, can help us gain the understanding that we are resilient and will be able to cope with this situation.”

Our job as a leading health care organization is to provide accurate information and guidance to make navigating through this time easier for you. Practicing the following will help you cope during this worrisome time.

  • Know the symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath
  • Assess your personal risk:
    • Are you over the age of 60?
    • Are you a health care worker who is exposed daily to sick patients?
    • Have you been in close contact with someone who has received a coronavirus diagnosis?
    • Do you have a chronic medical condition such as diabetes, heart disease, or lung disease?
    • Have you traveled to or from an international location where community spread is occurring?
  • Limit coronavirus news consumption and be wary of what you read online or see on social media
    • Coronavirus is at the top of many of our minds, and we’re eager to hear every update. Unfortunately, reading more about the virus and watching media coverage can contribute to anxiety. Limit yourself to information that is practical, informative, and action focused. In other words, don’t just read about the latest statistic. Instead, learn what you can do about it. Stay informed but not to the point it overwhelms you.
  • Follow suggested preventive methods:
    • If possible, avoid close contact with those who are sick
    • Avoid touching your face
    • Stay home when you are sick
    • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue
    • Make work meetings virtual whenever possible
    • Minimize non-essential social/group gatherings
    • Disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Take time to unwind and de-stress:
    • Practice Mindfulness
    • Do yoga
    • Listen to music
    • Read a good book or watch a favorite movie
    • Take a walk
  • Focus on the positive:
    • When worried or anxious, we tend to focus on the negative and miss the positive things that are happening around us. Rest assured, many positive things are happening amidst and due to this outbreak.
    • Every night, practice writing down at least three things that went well that day. We’ll get you started!

COVID-19: 6 Good Things

  • People are helping people. Many stores have dedicated hours for vulnerable populations such as senior shoppers and communities have organized volunteer programs to help those in need.
  • Companies who normally produce products like alcohol (distilleries) and perfume are now focusing their attention on producing free hand sanitizer.
  • Due to more people staying in their homes and issued quarantines, air pollutant and warming gas levels have dramatically declined in many cities.
  • Research and vaccine development are underway. On March 17, U.S. researchers injected the first shot to the first person (along with several dozen other volunteers) in a test of an experimental coronavirus vaccine.
  • Research is being conducted at Johns Hopkins University to determine if antibodies from recovered COVID-19 patients can help boost the immunity of newly infected or at-risk patients.
  • Many delivery services are now waiving fees for delivery of various necessities including take-out food delivery (e.g. Uber Eats) and medication delivery (e.g. Walgreens).

And there’s more! Balcony singing is happening in Italy. Celebrities and athletes are pitching in with monetary donations to help pay the wages of those who can’t work, to cover expenses for non-profits who are assisting during the outbreak, and to keep children digitally connected while out of school. There is magic in the mess. You just may need to dig a little deeper to find it.

If you are looking for more information, please read our patient FAQ or visit CDC.gov.

If you feel you are having trouble managing the worry and anxiety the coronavirus outbreak is causing, call our behavioral health department to arrange a telemedicine visit with one of our clinicians.

908-277-8900

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