Coronavirus: Follow the Facts not the Fear
I'm sure you are keeping up with the rapidly changing coronavirus (COVID-19) situation across the world. It seems like now more than ever, we need to be present and flexible to adjust to the current news. As always, but especially now, it seems important to know how to manage stress and be proactive while keeping in mind our safety and wellness. As members of the modern society, we have available news that keep us informed but can trigger all sorts of fears. While staying informed with the relevant news from health authorities on a daily basis is certainly important, we can’t let stress and anxiety take over. Panic doesn’t help anyone! The goal is to maintain a balanced perspective that involves knowing the facts while acknowledging our feelings and taking care of them in healthy ways. For example, knowing that there are cases of coronavirus in your county brings with it the stress of the unknown and the possible development of new cases or actually getting it. However, knowing that stress anxiety can affect your immune system can make you more aware of the need to “zoom out” and make good decisions, especially during difficult times. The lens through which we choose to view the world can help or hinder our ability to make good decisions and make wise choices. Zoom in, and get a close look at important details and information that is provided by real sources —get close enough to make sense of it. Then, zoom out, and see the big picture—but perhaps get rid of the less important information and nuances that can be irrelevant and add to the fear. Just as the zoom buttons on our digital devices let us examine images from a variety of viewpoints to get different perspectives, we can use them as a metaphor for flexibility, using these skills in a balanced way, not become fixated on one.
I feel strongly that it is our collective responsibility to be informed at all times and focus on the things that we can control such as keeping good hygiene and staying home if you feel sick. It’s also important to focus on the facts, act with common sense and use good judgement, taking the advice of the relevant authorities and follow the science, not the panic. Here are some practical precautions:
Keep frequent handwashing with soap for 20 seconds including your upper arms and under your nails. Take this time to connect with the sensation of the water on your hands and sense the calming sensation of listening to the water and feeling it on your hands.
Use hand sanitizer often if unable to wash your hands. You can remind yourself “I’m doing what I can with what I have right at this moment. Today I’m healthy and safe.”
Avoid touching your face, nose, eyes and mouth without washing your hands first. You can remind yourself that you value your health and therefore adhere to recommendations.
Use disinfectant cloths to wipe down doorknobs and seat arms when traveling and using public transportation or objects that are shared with others at public places. Think about this as caring for yourself and others since it’s important to protect everyone!
Avoid Handshakes instead wave or touch elbows, make a joke out of it. Humor always helps to decrease the tension and awkwardness.
Masks will not keep you from being infected but if you feel ill and must go out of your home, wear a mask. You can write some fun words on it.
If you are in close proximity of a person who is coughing or sneezing, you can ask them to cover their mouth and nose with a tissue and put the tissue in the trash right away. Again, do it in a fun, funny way so others get the message but don't get their feelings hurt. There are many reasons why people sneeze and cough. It doesn't mean that they are contagious.
Cough or sneeze into elbow -- not hands – carry tissues to offer others. Being kind to others at this time is key to get through this as a community!
When a sick person coughs or sneezes, virus droplets can travel 6 feet or more. If you're experiencing symptoms, please stay home and take care of yourself, avoid being in public.
In Broward County, if residents think they have been exposed to Coronavirus (COVID-19) through travel or close contact with someone who has, please call 954-412-7300 BEFORE going to a health care provider for treatment.
As many as 49 million Americans have been affected by the flu whereas the Coronavirus in total around the world has affected 109,634 individuals with 3,802 deaths and 60,956 recovered. Currently, there are 44,876 active cases (https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/). Keeping calm and good hygiene will help decrease the numbers of those affected. Therefore, if you suspect that you’re sick and don’t want to miss your therapy appointment, please let me know and we can do an online session. Online therapy is a convenient way to stay committed to your goal of growing, healing and enjoying life at your own pace from the convenience and safety of your own home! Let’s stay informed and safe!
Carolina Gaviria, LMHC, NCC, CEDS