In our last blog entry, The Shrinking World and the Growing Need for Social Workers, we discussed how as the problems of the world increase, people feel less in control, thus experiencing anxiety. Also in that entry, we mentioned the coronavirus as an example of such a problem. Since that time, the coronavirus is now classified as a global pandemic…complete with the accompanying panic and anxiety!

We stated that it is the job of social workers to help shrink problems into a manageable size for people to lower their anxiety. Unfortunately this does not mean that we have a cure for the coronavirus! What we have are suggestions of things that people can do to control their response to the circumstance. The following four tips will work for any emergency, but since we are facing the coronavirus, we will use that as a model for our suggestions.

Tip 1: Find Accurate Information

Make sure you get your information through reliable sources. Social media can be a breeding ground for inaccurate information! To remedy this verify the sources. Listen to the experts in the field. In the case of the coronavirus, health experts include:

  • authorities from the presidential appointed task force
  • Center for Disease Control (CDC)
  • The World Health Organization (WHO)
  • National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
  • local health departments
  • epidemiologists

It is vital to adhere to the mandates of local governors, mayors, and school officials.

Tip 2: Control the Amount of Time Taking in Stressful Information

Though is it important to stay current on changes, it is not necessary to keep news channels playing 24/7. Also don’t listen to people who thrive on gossiping and creating their own theories about what’s going on.

Tip 3: Find Other Things to Do

People can’t control the spread of the coronavirus or the constantly changing news reports about it, but they can create diversions to block that out for a moment. There have been various posts shared on social media regarding things people can do during times of social distancing such as:

  • playing old-fashioned board games such as Monopoly
  • dancing and exercising to videos
  • spending more time with family
  • having virtual parties
  • connecting face-to-face via Zoom or other phone and computer apps

This is also a good time to have sit down family dinners…since everyone will be home at the same time. Let the kids help cook their favorite dishes! Also distract young children by letting them help with laundry, housecleaning, and doing some arts and craft activities. Our favorite way to pass time is to read. If you have young children, read to them and allow them to tell you stories.

Tip 4: Stay in Touch with Positive People

We normally suggest surrounding yourself with positive people, but with the social distancing limitations, staying in touch with positive people is a better option. The latter can be done successfully with social media! Also, old-fashion phone calls work to stay connected to others as well as check on their safety.

We are not trying to minimize this problem. The coronavirus is a public health crisis unlike any that we have ever seen before. Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the NIAID stated that this situation is new and emerging and we don’t know the impact. That fact alone produces high anxiety! Do your best to control your response to this. Journal-writing can be an effective way to lower your alarm level. As best you can, utilize our four tips!

Last, but not least…it is natural to be nervous! The best way to shrink this world problem is to regain a sense of control…and you do have power over how you handle this situation! And if you really want to lift your spirits, research health crises that have passed… this one will too! Take control by staying positive!

Frances Goddard, LCSW, BCD
Diane Harvey, LCSW