Important things to know about COPING so you aren’t more anxious

During our 30+ years as psychotherapists we never had to address the fear and uncertainty the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic has created.  The disruption to individual lives and society is surreal.

There are coping truths that we know are real:

  1. Everyone copes with horrible situations differently.  Some use humor (even gallows humor), some become immobilized or depressed, for others anxiety explodes, some grasp at things that are seemingly frivolous but under their control (like hoarding toilet paper).  I watch the news obsessively since I find comfort in information.
  2. We want our family & friends to cope in the same way we cope. “Why aren’t you acting more worried?”, “Don’t be so obsessive”.  “Do something productive.”  “Calm down and slow down.” There’s comfort in thinking we are connected and not alone in our own way of seeing and responding to threats, real or perceived.  When other people don’t cope the way we cope it makes us nervous, as if something is wrong with them.
  3. The higher the stress the more the brain reverts to automatic, old, tried and true patterns and coping mechanisms that are basic to who we are and how we are in the world.  Our mind-body stress response says this is NOT time to change our normal behaviors and natural tendencies because doing something new creates more stress.
  4. It’s normal to feel productiveanxiety right now,and while we need to allow ourselves to feel these feelings.  Some anxiety is productive—it’s what motivates us to wash our hands often and distance ourselves from others when there’s an important reason to do so. If we weren’t reasonably worried, no one would be taking these measure to help reduce the viral spread.
  5. Unproductiveanxiety— unchecked rumination—makes our mind spin in frightening directions. Our anxiety is actually trying to keep us safe by focusing on potential threats preparing us for fight, flight or freeze. However, anxiety when constant elevates our stress response chronically which dampens the immune response which is the last thing we want during a pandemic.

    Click here for your FREE Incredibly Creative Stress Kit PDF

In recent weeks we have been doing daily posts on coping with stress, anxiety and social distancing.

Scroll down to see these posts.

2 comments on “Important things to know about COPING so you aren’t more anxious

  1. Is there a difference between personal stress situations – family or marital issues, career or education related, etc. – and something like this Corona virus? We can do something about our personal crises, even if they require us to make difficult decisions. But we are unable to do more than react to Corona virus. We wash our hands as told, we wear masks as told, we stay home as told. The threat of the return of this virus in a few months is paralyzing.

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    • Shari,
      You pointed out some differences yourself. Also, with this virus, we are not alone. Almost everyone is experiencing this worldwide. And we can do things for others. I have a friend who is sewing masks (she did one for me) out of leftover fabric. Judy and I are posting ways to cope psychologically. Also this is in the news daily. Our personal issues are usually private (unless you are a public figure-then the tabloids are all over you).
      Peggy

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