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Tips to help reduce coronavirus anxiety

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POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Everywhere you look, it's all about the coronavirus.

It can be hard to escape the constant influx of new, often upsetting, information about the new virus.

Here are some tips from experts to help reduce anxiety caused by the global pandemic.

Limit your intake

Finding a balance between staying informed and not getting sucked in can help ease anxiety, according to Olivia Ngadjui, a licensed professional counselor at Portneuf Valley Family Center.

“Downsize looking at the news to one hour a day. And that’s going to include social media, like your timeline, because right now, everyone’s talking about it. So, finding a way to detach from this topic,” Ngadjui.

Even looking on the bright side can help, Ngadjui said, like the fact that 80 percent of people seem to recover well from the virus.

We can take the pandemic seriously, without focusing on it all the time.

“The virus is something that could take out our geriatric population and other vulnerable individuals. That’s why its very important for us to be mindful of social distancing. But this isn’t something that is like an apocalypse,” Ngadjui said.

Social distancing, not anti-social

As more of the globe practices social distancing, social isolation should be avoided.

“Connection is natural,” Ngadjui said.

Finding ways to stay in touch can help reduce anxiety, according to Travis Mickelson, the associate medical director of mental health integration for Intermountain Healthcare.

"Again we want people to really follow the recommendations and precautions for social distancing, but there are many ways that we can connect with people who we care about through Skype, FaceTime, or all of these social platforms," Mickelson said.

New apps allow people to spend time with each other from a distance, like Netflix Party and Zoom.

Lend a (clean) helping hand

Mickelson also suggests doing things for "the greater good of our society."

"If I feel helpful and like I’m going to do something that might help the greater good of society. That’s a great way for me to manage my anxiety about what’s going on," Mickelson said.

Lending a neighbor an extra roll of toilet paper, donating blood, supporting local businesses and staying at home are some ways to help out.

Relish the extra time

Offices closed and events cancelled means people generally have more down time at home. But more free time can lead to overthinking.

"If we spend too much time thinking about the past, we’re going to get depressed. And if we spend too much time thinking about the future, we are going to get anxious," Mickelson said.

Ngadjui and Mickelson recommend practicing mindfulness, 'a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.'

“Because right now we have a lot of time on our hands. So imagine now you can eat slower and actually think about how something tastes without having to rush from one place to another,” Ngadjui said.

Practicing mindfulness while spring cleaning or exercising can be therapeutic. There are podcasts and YouTube tutorials to help get started.

Back to the basics

Reflect on healthy coping strategies you've used in the past, Mickelson said.

"So, things like healthy eating habits and sleep habits and trying to exercise, and maintaining social connection – through the phone or through the internet - Doing all the things that we know will be helpful," Mickelson said.

Reach out to someone if you need help.

Resources:

You can call the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. They are limiting staff during the pandemic, but are taking calls.

The Portneuf Valley Family Center has a crisis line available at 208-339-4665.

The Southeast Idaho Behavioral Crisis Center is still open and available at 208-909-5177.

Health / Idaho / Local News / News / Pocatello / Top Stories / Videos
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Emma Iannacone

Emma is a reporter for Local News 8 and KIDK Eyewitness News 3.

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