Life&Style Writer Molly Websdell discusses how to protect your wellbeing during the virus outbreak

Written by mollywebsdell
Images by silviarita

Living in an age dominated by social media, of course, has its benefits. However, in times of crisis our reliance on the virtual often does more harm than good. The recent outbreak of coronavirus has become a terrifying example of this, with panic spreading both physically and virtually throughout the online world. The constant bombardment of news notifications and statistics makes it difficult to switch off your mind and escape the prevailing tone of fear.

Of the 80,000 people sick from COVID-19 in China, more than 70% have recovered and been discharged from hospitals

In light of this current pandemic, it is important to keep a rational mindset and avoid getting caught up in the eruption of online sources. Perhaps, a tip is to seek research through a scientific avenue, avoiding media outlets and social sites filled with unspecialised opinions. Infectious Diseases Specialist Abdu Sharkawy has recently commented on the issue, stating, ‘I am not scared of Covid-19 […] What I am scared about is the loss of reason and wave of fear that has induced the masses of society into a spellbinding spiral of panic’. Sharkawy is promoting a calmer attitude, emphasising how the greater issue is our response to the coronavirus outbreak. We must keep in mind the media’s ability to blow things out of proportion and try not to get caught up in the increasing ‘spiral of panic’.

Furthermore, I would encourage anybody feeling anxious to seek out coverage with a more positive outlook. I recommend the newspaper ‘GoodGoodGood’ who have recently posted a thread on Instagram (@goodgoodgoodco) promoting key progress and positive statistics regarding the coronavirus. For example, ‘Of the 80,000 people sick from COVID-19 in China, more than 70% have recovered and been discharged from hospitals’. It may benefit you to surround yourself with these sorts of facts as opposed to sensationalized headlines.

Tips to avoid stress and panic:

1. Take some time out from social media

Perhaps try deleting twitter or facebook for a while to restrict your exposure to harmful scaremongering. Or, dedicate a few hours a day to putting your phone away and find an alternative activity, like reading a book. This will allow you to switch off and focus on something away from the news, reducing your worry.

2. Go for a walk!

Getting outdoors and absorbing the natural world around you is a great way to tackle stress. Leave your devices at home and embrace your surroundings. This will help clear your head of worry and overthinking, enabling an escape from the current media storm. .

3. Don’t focus on what everyone else is doing

The panic stockpiling which has taken off as a result of the coronavirus is no doubt a concern for many. It can be a scary sight to see the empty shelves and panicked customers in your local supermarket. Humans have a natural instinct to follow one another and this is a perfect example of people following the masses. As difficult as this is to avoid, I would advise everyone to remember that this trend is only going to increase panic and is certainly not helpful for the mental health of many. Try and stick to your usual routine and do not feel pressured to participate in stockpiling.

4. Download a calming app or practice meditation to reduce panic

Apps such as ‘Headspace’ offer free meditation and breathing activities which can really help with taking time away from current events. Alternatively, try listening to a podcast. One of my favourites is ‘Sleep Cove’ which I listen to at night to reduce late-night overthinking. Meditation can have really positive effects and I would highly recommend it if you are feeling anxious during this time.

Most importantly, look after yourself. This is no doubt a worrying time; surround yourself with those you feel comfortable with and make sure to talk about anything that is on your mind. If you begin to experience any symptoms of coronavirus visit the NHS website and follow professional advice. Make yourself a priority and try to keep calm.