5 Tips to manage COVID-19 anxiety
Friday, 20 March 2020
There’s no doubt about it, the COVID-19 pandemic is deeply concerning for everyone. And it is everyone! Other than World Wars, it’s difficult to think of anything which has or ever will affect so many of us across the world simultaneously. Although a glib comparison, even when global sporting events take place, there are huge swathes of the global population who pay absolutely no attention. But this is clearly different and hugely important. For those who aren’t affected by the virus directly, there’s little way of avoiding the restrictions being put in place across all of our societies.
Who could have possibly seen this coming? Well, anyone who has seen Bill Gates’ TED talk from 2015 will see his alarmingly accurate warnings. Clever chap that Bill! But there’s little point looking back with hindsight at the ‘if onlys’. We must all pull together and support those who are directly affected by the virus. And for everyone else, we must take responsibility for how we choose to respond to the 24/7 rolling media coverage which is creating understandable anxiety across the globe.
The American Psychological Association (APA) has put out some tips to manage this anxiety which are more grounded in reality, compared to much of what we are reading in the general media.
The five tips are:
Keep things in perspective. Most people should not get seriously unwell; even those over 70 can take steps to minimise the likelihood of getting the virus. As more data becomes available the analysis suggests the death rate is relatively low.
Get the facts. Avoid getting caught up with sensationalised media coverage and focus on reports from the relevant authorities.
Communicate more. Share qualified data with others. If we remain calm, it builds confidence and reduces anxiety in others.
Keep connected. Maintain a sense of normality with all your personal and business connections ‘electronically’ using face-to-face technologies like Zoom, Skype and Facetime. Use texts, emails and social media if you must, but they don’t create the same level of connection. Of course, there’s always the phone and hand-written letters too!
Seek help. We’re all in this together. No one is alone. Let’s look after ourselves and proactively support other people. In working relationships this should be true both up and down the chain of command. Leaders should be supporting their team members but, just as importantly, team members should be looking out for their leaders. And, if anyone is feeling an overwhelming nervousness, sadness, or other reaction, then they really ought to consult a mental health professional to manage their stress.
In terms of businesses, of course, they are all currently dealing with a short-term heightened level of disruptive change associated with potential working from home changes, new policies, home pressures and concerns, disrupted customers and new technologies that need to be implemented quickly. What we are seeing is that around one third of businesses are now exceptionally busy (and doing OK), for the next third it is roughly business as usual, and the final third are experiencing significant trouble. Of the final category, maybe half of those businesses may prove difficult to save. So, as you can see, the impact of COVID-19 is maybe not quite how it is being portrayed in the media, and in truth every business will need help and support in differing ways.
Watch out for a series of further posts and videos over the coming days with practical business tools and advice to support people and businesses. We are also available through Skype to provide business coaching to businesses – please just get in touch.