March 18, 2020
Mental health experts say anxiety over coronavirus is high, but they urge people to follow recommended precautions and focus on controlling what they can control.
"Certainly people are anxious. There are a lot of conversations about this. People are wondering if they are doing what they are supposed to be doing," Dr. Eric French, medical director of Adult Inpatient Psychiatry at the Medical Center of Aurora said.
"People are worried about what they don't know about this virus, worried about, 'Are we being informed adequately, am I doing everything I can be doing?' There are many avenues for anxiety to raise around issues like this."
French said all the attention may be adding to people's fears.
"People should manage screen time because there's a tendency with all this information coming in for people to want to be up to date on the second. The fact of the matter is, that can be really unhealthy because there's no opportunity to come up for air to counter all of this influx," he said.
French continued, "We want to be utilizing sources that are reliable so you're not just roving every magazine, every social media post because those tend to come with a lot of strong language. That's how they get their your attention and get you to engage. Those things can really elevate anxiety."
Finding a balance is key to getting through this health pandemic.
French said, "When you have a large stress, for any reason at all, if you're not taking action to counter balance that, it's overwhelming."
He recommends getting plenty of quality sleep, eating healthy foods, exercising and making time for leisure activities you enjoy.
Also, his recommendation is that parents should be a good source of information for their children. Information coming from a trusted individual combats the incorrect stories they may be hearing around school or from friends.
He suggests to limit it to "this is what we can do right now, practicing everything we can practice. I will let you know if there are things we need to change. For now, try not to listen to everything at school."
He also advises against using drugs or alcohol to cope. Those vices make the situation worse when used as an escape and the situation is still out of your control.
"You can't spend a lot of time worrying about things you cannot affect change on. It's really going to weigh you down. These are just as important as any other health concern. You do what you can do to take good care of yourself," French stressed.
"Doing things that will drive our anxiety down like mindfulness practice, breathing practices, muscle relaxation, and making certain we are balancing this influx of information. All we can do is control our own actions, and behaviors and responses to things and we can do no more than what is being recommended."
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