There is only one topic that is on everyone’s minds when they turn on the television or look at social media: coronavirus (COVID-19). The virus is inciting panic for a number of reasons. It is a new virus, meaning no one has immunity, and there is no vaccine. Its novelty means that scientists are not yet sure how it behaves, and they have little history to go on. With the number of cases in the United States surpassing those of other countries, people are being influenced by one another and letting emotions dictate their behavior, instead of taking a rational approach.
While some news reporters and government officials do their best to relay factual information, others tend to say what they think will get them the most attention, and it is working. When it comes to getting reliable information on COVID-19, people need to make it a point to listen to the CDC, WHO, and medical professionals. These groups are recognized experts on this matter and are doing everything they can to provide people with the most current and reliable data.
For those with panic and anxiety disorders, this pandemic can be extremely difficult to manage emotionally and mentally. Here are some things you can do to support yourself:
- Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories including social media. Repeatedly hearing about the pandemic can be upsetting.
- Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
- Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling. While everyone is social distancing, it does not mean you cannot speak with those you love.
Additionally, sharing the facts about COVID-19 and understanding the actual risk to yourself and people you care about can make an outbreak less stressful.
Difference Between Social Distancing, Quarantine, and Isolation
The media is constantly stressing the importance of social distancing, quarantine, and isolation, but what do these terms really mean?
Social Distancing is minimizing the time we spend physically with other people. Schools have turned to remote learning and many sports events, cruises, festivals and other gatherings have been cancelled. All of this has been done for everyone’s safety, and more specifically, to help limit our contact with other people. While this may seem like extreme precautions, there is an extremely important reason why social distancing is necessary. As more people become infected, more people are visiting hospitals to seek care. Eventually, if no precautions are taken, the number of people seeking medical care will begin to overwhelm the healthcare system, jeopardizing the ability to provide the proper care to those who need it. Hospitals do not have unlimited equipment and staff, and if too many people are arriving at hospitals, they will eventually run out of space and resources.
Social distancing will help slow the rate at which people are getting infected, which will in turn prevent hospitals from reaching and surpassing capacity, allowing for effective treatment and recovery.
Flattening the curve, a term that has been utilized all over the media, is used to explain how the slowing of the spread of the virus will lower the projected number of people who are expected to contract COVID-19 over a period of time in turn decreasing the growing number of individuals seeking medical treatment. For this reason, many countries have implemented social distancing guidelines, including “shelter in place” orders, similar to what we have seen in Northern California and other communities across the United States.
Quarantine, on the other hand, is reserved for people who have been or may have been exposed to COVID-19. Health experts at the CDC and WHO recommend that people self-quarantine for 14 days, as this will provide enough time for people to know whether or not they have the virus. During a self-quarantine, it is important to do the following:
- Use standard hygiene and wash hands frequently
- Do not share things such as towels and utensils
- Stay at home
- Refrain from having visitors
- Stay at least six (6) feet away from all other people in the household
Isolation is for people who have COVID-19, and as the term suggests, must be isolated from others, either at home or in a hospital or care facility. Those in isolation, if not at a hospital or care facility, must be extremely cautious as to prevent the spread of the virus.
How to Protect Yourself
As the media continues to send both the country and the world into mass hysteria, it is important to pay attention to the facts, and understand how to best protect yourself. While it is true that there is no vaccine at this time, and it is predicted that there will not be one available for at least another year, understanding how the virus spreads is essential in keeping yourself safe.
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person to person. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, they let out respiratory droplets, which can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby and possibly inhale into the lungs. This is also why medical professionals are recommending staying six (6) feet away from other people; the farther away you are from others, the lower the chance you will come into contact with these respiratory droplets.
Here is a list of some simple but effective actions you can take to protect yourself:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Put distance between yourself and other people.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
Here is a list of what you can do to protect others:
- Stay home if you are sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- Throw used tissues in the trash.
- Immediately wash your hands after sneezing or coughing, or before coming into contact with anyone.
- Wear a facemask.
Importance of Early Intervention and Treatment
While you may feel alone during these troubling times, be rest assured that you are not the only one feeling this way. Everyone is experiencing the same thing, and if you feel there is nothing that can help you, that is not the case. Accelerated Resolution Therapy® (ART) is available to help those suffering from anxiety and depression as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic or other mental health diagnosis.
Accelerated Resolution Therapy® (ART) is an innovative, evidence-based therapy for both PTS and PTSD, anxiety, depression, stress, and similar mental health issues. Initially, the therapy was primarily used to help veterans suffering from PTSD. One of the major advantages is the speed at which ART is able to bring relief. Normally, only one to five sessions are needed, not months or years of expensive psychiatric treatment.
Accelerated Resolution Therapy works by reprogramming the traumatic memories that are preventing a person from enjoying the full life they deserve. The techniques work equally well on bullying victims, combat vets, and others.
Do not let the COVID-19 pandemic take control of your life. There is always hope, even when you feel there is none. Contact ART International Training and Research to learn more about the therapy or find a therapist near you.
ART International Training and Research Inc., is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing access to Accelerated Resolution Therapy® (ART) for individuals suffering from trauma and other mental health diagnosis through innovative research and clinician training and education.