Given the current situation with the virus, it seems helpful to put some advice for dealing with it on this page. There's a large amount of resource on this page, so I hope you find something that works for you. The situation is changing daily, of course, so it's a good idea to keep up to date with the latest advice.
I have written a blog about this here.
I also love this piece, written anonymously but publicised by Paul Williams.
“When you go out and see the empty streets, the empty stadiums, the empty train platforms, don’t say to yourself, “It looks like the end of the world.” What you’re seeing is love in action. What you’re seeing, in that negative space, is how much we do care for each other, for our grandparents, for our immuno-compromised brothers and sisters, for people we will never meet.
People will lose jobs over this. Some will lose their businesses. And some will lose their lives. All the more reason to take a moment, when you’re out on your walk, or on your way to the store, or just watching the news, to look into the emptiness and marvel at all of that love.
Let it fill you and sustain you.
It isn’t the end of the world. It is the most remarkable act of global solidarity we may ever witness."
If you are feeling anxious....
There is a lot of fear and anxiety about the coronavirus; some of it, I believe, is justified if you are in a vulnerable group (over 60, or with an underlying health condition). Some of it is a result of the blanket coverage in the media, reporting every tiny increase in cases and other people's rising sense of panic and urgency to take action, along with the resulting panic buying in shops (thankfully this seems to be easing). Under these cirumstances it is easy to feel panicky ourselves. I list below some measures to take should you be feeling anxious.
Anxiety has a big effect on our bodies, galvanising them into action - flight or fight (or freeze, if neither of those works). This means an increased heart rate, blood pressure, a surge of adrenalin etc. If we want to calm our anxiety, we need to calm our bodies, and mindfulness is a great way to do this. Here's a document that outlines some good ideas for using mindfulness to calm ourselves.
There is also a wealth of free guided meditations to help relax us online - here and here. One of the most famous and best loved is the mountain meditation -a good example is here.
I can't vouch for all the content on these, but these podcasts and progammes look helpful to reduce anxiety :
If you'd like a wide ranging and deep persepctive on it all, then I recommend this (rather long) article, or it's on a podcast on the same website.
This is an article from HuffPost dated February 2020:
With the rise in reported cases of the new coronavirus around the world, many people are feeling anxious and afraid about a looming pandemic. For those in China, the disease’s epicenter, its toll on mental health is well-documented. But even in areas not yet heavily affected by COVID-19, people are expressing their worries.
“When the news covers the outbreak of a virus, it is common for people who consume a lot of news media to feel a rise in anxiety,” Nicole Bentley, a licensed therapist and intake coordinator at Cityscape Counseling in Chicago, told HuffPost. “Symptoms could include rumination about the virus, fear of catching the virus even if it isn’t in their area, difficulty sleeping and increased efforts to stay healthy.”
For some, anxiety about coronavirus may affect their ability to function at work or otherwise go about their lives. If you’re feeling this way, know that there are things you can do to deal with it.
HuffPost spoke to Bentley and other mental health experts to identify some fo the best ways to cope with this kind of anxiety.
Take a break from the news.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by concerns about coronavirus, consider monitoring and potentially limiting the amount of media you consume.
“I would recommend filtering their media coverage about coronavirus. People don’t have to avoid the news altogether if they don’t want to, but they also don’t need to obsessively stay up to date, either.” Bentley said. “Staying overly connected to news coverage can negatively impact mental health, so it is important to monitor their intake if they notice a rise in anxiety.”
It can be very beneficial just to take an hour or so away from the constant updates and information on TV and online. Needing a reprieve is natural and human.
“Keep in perspective how many times you are hearing about the virus and how much energy you are devoting to thinking about it every day. This is not something to obsess over, but rather to be conscious and aware of ― vigilant, but realistic in your thoughts and approach,” said Esther Saggurthi, primary clinician at Maryland House Detox, a Delphi Behavioral Health Group facility.
“The mind works off of the power of suggestion,” she added. “When we keep hearing about the coronavirus, we visualize what it would be like to be sick or to have a loved one sick, and then often we get scared, as the outbreak is something we cannot control.”
Talk to someone.
It may feel tempting to cut off communication with others when you’re feeling anxious, but talking to someone about these emotions can be very helpful.
“How many times do we all try to look good on the outside when inside we are really panicked or depressed?” Saggurthi noted. “The only way for someone to understand how we are feeling or what we are thinking is for us to talk about it and tell them.”
Talking to someone, even if just via text, can help you process your emotions and feel supported, rather than spiraling further.
Try to be present in the moment.
“It is critical to remain connected to the present moment, rather than allowing their fear to take over,” Bentley noted.
If your mind is starting to wander into scary territory, try focusing on your immediate environment and mentally take stock of the things and people around you. That can help you stay grounded and keep things in perspective.
The unknowns surrounding coronavirus can be scary, but it’s helpful to focus on the here and now. At the moment, the threat to you personally is likely not immediate.
“Positive affirmations are especially helpful,” Saggurthi said. “I am healthy today. I live a healthful life. I have control over my life. I am at peace. I feel calm.”
Remind yourself what you can control.
“It is easy to feel like one’s life is out of control and focus on the futility of life in these situations,” Saggurthi said. “The increased anxiety over a situation which is mostly beyond our control may cause us to rationalize and make poor decisions and may result in returning to behaviors we were working hard to quit in the first place.”
But while the actions of world governments and fellow citizens are out of your control, you do have power over yourself.
“It is important to remind yourself of what is in your control,” advised. “Make sure to wash your hands. Be on the lookout for flu-like symptoms.”
You can use your anxiety as a signal to take reasonable steps to prepare for a pandemic, Jonathan Sutton, director of the cognitive behavioral therapies program at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, told HuffPost. Find a trusted source of information and stick to that one to insulate yourself from rumors and falsehoods.
“What reputable information do you need to know at this point? The CDC and WHO fit the bill for me,” he noted. “Based on the best available medical information, are there steps that are relevant for you to take at this time and will you take them?”
If you’re ever feeling dark, identifying and giving thanks for the points of brightness in your life can help you get out of this headspace. Consider making a mental list of the things you’re grateful for or keeping a gratitude journal.
As Bentley noted, “it is helpful to practice gratitude in moments of panic, because it can keep someone grounded in the present moment and appreciative for what they have in their lives.”
Reach out for help.
It’s natural to experience anxiety and other emotional struggles amid a global health crisis. If the feelings worsen or continue to interfere with your ability to concentrate, sleep or care for yourself or your family, it’s important to seek professional help.
Many employers and communities offer mental health resources. If you’re feeling as though you might act in a way that harms yourself or someone else, call a support line like the Samaritans, or see a counsellor.
The Facts are Friendly
It's usually helpful to have some facts to work with, so that we can challenge any unhelpful, irrational fears. This is a good website, updated regularly.
I profoundly believe that good can come out of bad. In amongst all the fear about the coronavirus, there are many good stories starting to emerge. This is one coming out of China....
And there are some wonderfully creartive and uplifting things being done by people in isolation. Here's an example.....
Finally some appreciation for all those counsellors and therapists out there.....
Mick Cooper is a well-known and well-respected person centred/existential counsellor. He's recently posted this, and it's most welcome....
"To the counsellors, psychotherapists, and mental health workers -- trainees, professionals, volunteers -- who'll be getting up tomorrow, seeing clients:...
Please remember you are doing a fantastic, invaluable job right now at this time of national crisis. You'll be working with clients who are scared, confused, uncertain about how things are going to be; and I'm sure many of us will be too. But our role over the coming months will be to hold the anxieties of our clients, and also members of our wider communities. To be something solid and substantial when things may feel -- to others and also to ourselves -- like they are falling apart. It's a big demand. A lot of anxiety and fear to hold. But it is a time that is calling on all our strengths and abilities to contribute to the wellbeing and security of our communities.
Counsellors and psychotherapists are the emotional backbone of our nation. Often unrecognised; but there to support, strengthen, soothe. Needed now more than ever."