The novel coronavirus isn’t just a fast-spreading infection. But the new virus has also triggered an ‘infodemic’ amidst a slew of misinformation being circulated on various online platforms.
This has caused increased stress and anxiety in the global population. Perhaps, the sudden and constant stream of reports about an outbreak of infectious diseases, like the current COVID-19, can cause anyone to feel worried.
While it’s important to stay informed and take precautions, you should take steps to support and manage your mental health during a stressful time such as a disease outbreak.
Effects of stress during an infectious disease
The truth is, fear and anxiety about an outbreak of a disease can be overwhelming and take a toll on your mental health. According to the CDC, some common effects of stress during a disease outbreak can include:
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Fear and worry about your own health and your loved ones’ health
- Changes in sleep and eating patterns
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Increased use of tobacco, alcohol, or drugs
What you can do to support your mental health
Here are a few tips to help you and your family to look after your mental health in the event of a coronavirus pandemic:
- Try to avoid rumour and speculation, which can fuel anxiety. Instead, look up reputable sources on the outbreak. You can follow the Health Ministry’s bulletin to get up-to-date information and safety advice on the virus.
- Unplug from the news for a bit – take a break from watching, reading, or listening to the news. This includes restricting social media use. While it’s important to be in-the-know, hearing about the pandemic repeatedly or being obsessed with the COVID-19 news can become problematic.
- Practice yoga, stretch, meditate or do deep breathing exercises – to help you let go of anticipatory anxiety. Numerous studies have shown that yoga and breathing exercises can be extremely beneficial when it comes to reducing stress and anxiety.
What’s more, this calming technique takes just a few minutes and can be done anywhere, anytime.
- Eat a nutritious and well-balanced diet, drink plenty of water, exercise regularly, sleep well, and practice other good habits to help stay healthy. There’s a lot of evidence that healthy habits such as being active can help strengthen your immune system and promote feelings of well-being.
- Connect with others, and reach out to people you trust to talk about your concerns and how you are feeling. Be supportive to others – assisting others in times of need can benefit both the person receiving support and the helper.
Additionally, individuals with pre-existing mental health conditions are recommended to stick to their treatment and be aware of new or worsening symptoms.
Make sure that you seek medical help if you’re feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness or anxiety.
Taking care of yourself, your family and friend will help you cope with stress and push back against the communal anxiety triggered by an outbreak, such as coronavirus or COVID-19.