How to deal with anxiety and loneliness during the coronavirus outbreak
- Stress is to be expected when dealing with a health scare of global proportions like the coronavirus.
- Having to remain indoors and interacting with people less can lead to a worse overall mood and elevated levels of stress.
- Turning to online therapy, calling your friends, and even just cleaning your home can all help distract from the anxiety of quarantine.
- Insider has compiled a list of the best tips to maintain your mental health during a quarantine.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
Stress is to be expected when dealing with a global health scare like the coronavirus — which, as of Wednesday, had infected 141,000 people and killed 4,300 people worldwide.
Having to stay indoors, interacting less with other people, and the overall stress of worrying about contracting the coronavirus can all lead to elevated levels of anxiety and a worse mood.
Maintaining your mental health during a quarantine is important for your sanity and well-being, so Insider has compiled a list of tips to protect your mental health during a quarantine.
Don't tell people to not panic — it won't help. Instead, suggest activities that can distract from the anxiety.
While some people may not be stressed about the coronavirus, telling people not to panic is not helpful. Rather than telling your partner, friend, or relative to "calm down," suggest things to do that might alleviate the stress.
Rosemary Taylor, an associate professor of sociology and community health at Tufts University, told Business Insider's Anna Miller: "People need ways of alleviating their anxiety, so clear instructions about risks and behaviors are essential to allay fears."
Taking precautions to wash your hands thoroughly, clean your home, and stock up on food could all be ways to keep yourself busy while alleviating some anxiety about what to do if the quarantine situation becomes dire.
Self-quarantining may put you in an 'unpleasant state' because humans thrive off social interaction.
It's important to understand that self-quarantining might put you in a bad mood because of the social isolation that comes with remaining indoors.
Humans needs social interaction to live — as people with weaker relationships are 50% more likely to die over the same period of time as people with stronger relationships, according to a 2015 meta-analysis including more than 308,000 people.
"If we think about loneliness as this adaptive response kind of like hunger and thirst, it's this unpleasant state that motivates us to seek out social connections just like hunger motivates us to seek out food," lead study author Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University, told Anna Miller in a previous story.
Make sure you stay in touch with people over the phone or video chat.
In order to combat some of the loneliness that comes with a quarantine, make sure you are staying in touch with friends and family on the phone or on FaceTime.
Some services specific to the Quarantine like QuarantineChat have even been developed to help people stay connected across the globe through voice chat with others impacted by the virus.
As anxiety about the coronavirus spreads, artists Danielle Baskin and Max Hawkins told Insider they wanted to provide a service to help people build community in spite of it — inspiring them to create QuarantineChat.
"It's to bring magic and serendipity to a new reality where thousands of people are stuck inside alone for the next month all over the world," Baskin and Hawkins told Business Insider.
Demand is soaring for online therapy, a great tool to deal with stress while quarantined.
While you may not be able to leave your house to seek typical in-person therapy, video-chat options exist for those who are self-quarantining.
"The number of new members with concerns of stress and anxiety in February more than doubled compared to February of last year," Alon Matas, the founder and president of the online counseling service BetterHelp told Business Insider in a previous article.
Moving around less during a quarantine can also lead to higher anxiety and worse mood, so try some at-home workouts.
As the coronavirus continues to cause concern worldwide, gym-goers have begun to think twice about sharing equipment, locker rooms, and towels. Although the virus doesn't survive well on highly-sanitized surfaces, fitness professionals and enthusiasts are wary.
A lack of physical activity can lead to heightened anxiety and stress levels, so trying at home workouts might be a good alternative.
Certain at home workouts that employ body weight and everyday surfaces like burpees, squats, and push ups can be helpful in replacing gym equipment and eliminating contact with everyday gym goers.
"You don't need a gym to be fit unless you're a hardcore weight-lifter," certified personal trainer Bryan Goldberg told Business Insider's Gabby Landsverk. "The average person can get fit and stay fit in the confines of their bunker."
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