Paying attention to reliable sources including the World Health Organization and Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can help you make informed decisions about resuming normal activities, according to Danbury Hospital in Danbury, Connecticut. Other sources include state and local health departments.
Manage your emotional response to fear
Christopher Pittenger, director of the OCD Research Clinic at Yale University, told Vox one thing people can do is talk through a scenario "systematically and just accept the fact that there isn't going to be absolute certainty, and learn to manage that emotional response to uncertainty."
“It’s called exposure and response prevention. We’ll go ahead and trigger the emotional response — we’ll look at the spider, we’ll allow our hands to be contaminated, whatever it may be — and sit there and tolerate the emotion,” Pittenger said. “If we can learn to label the emotion and recognize them as signals that may be useful sometimes but don’t mean you’re in danger, then we can try to break that cycle of the anxiety or the fear feeding on itself and learn to tolerate it better.”
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Engage in adaptive behaviors
Practicing mindfulness, exercise, meditation and talking with family and friends are ways people can use adaptive behaviors to sort through feelings such as anxiety. Mindfulness, or being grounded in the present, is a critical adaptive behavior, Louisville, Kentucky-based licensed clinical psychologist Kevin Chapman, Ph.D. told Today.com.
One way you can do this is to inhale in through your nose for four seconds and exhale through your mouth for six seconds.
“That stimulates heart-lung synchronization, so now you're anchored and grounded in the present moment,” Chapman said before adding you should follow with a three-point check by asking yourself questions such as what am I thinking right now? What am I feeling in my body right now? What am I doing, or feel like doing right now?
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Consider your interactions
If you're feeling anxious, it's important to have the right people around you to help you cope. Cleveland-based clinical health psychologist, Dr. Lori Stevic-Rust told WYKC Studios that you need to take into account who you choose to interact with.
"If you're in contact with people who are saying, 'This is nonsense, and I'm living my life, and I'm doing whatever I want,' being around those people also raises your risk," she said. "Because they may be asymptomatic, and are the carriers. Then every place you go from there on, you are potentially lugging behind you the virus."
Avoiding people with that outlook may help relieve some anxiety.
Accept that anxiety is normal
Feeling concerned is not out of the ordinary when it comes to change.
“It’s normal, healthy and important to be anxious about re-entry,” Chapman told Today.com.
As Roxane Cohen Silver, professor of psychological science, medicine, and health at the University of California, Irvine told Vox, “People should understand that their feelings are normal and natural, and they’re not going crazy.
“This is a very unusual and stressful and worrisome time. It’s okay to be feeling anxious,” she added. “And there are many, many, many people experiencing losses — and those are real, and those should not be minimized.”
If your anxiety is too much to manage on your own, you should call your health care provider, who can provide individual assistance. There is also the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Disaster Distress Helpline, which provides crisis counseling year-round at 1-800-985-5990.