So as you can expect, I’m working from home now so forgive the lack of studio because today I’d like to talk about the Coronavirus and anxiety.

If the COVID-19 outbreak has got you checking the news constantly — or asking yourself whether it’s time to stock up on food or toilet rolls, you’re not alone, by a long shot.

But there’s a difference between preparing for the coronavirus and letting thoughts about the coronavirus take over your brain. The former can be productive; the latter rarely is.

A relatively easy way to tell the difference between profitable worry and unprofitable worry is whether you can think of concrete actions to take that would alleviate your concerns, worrying about how the virus emerged and was handled at the start won’t provide you many actionable steps to protect yourself now. Your worry about someone transmitting the disease can be turned into concrete steps: washing your hands, limiting how much you touch your face, etc. Importantly, thinking about concrete steps to handle one’s worry is a way to turn unprofitable anxiety into anxiety that is quite useful.

Yes, you read that correctly: There is such a thing as useful anxiety. The good kind of anxiety can lead you towards positive, life-improving actions, like learning how to wash your hands the government-recommended way.

The bad kind of anxiety, on the other hand, can lead to unproductive worry and thought spirals. If you find yourself unable to think about anything else but the coronavirus.

I suggest you break the spiral by describing what you are thinking and feeling. Next time your thoughts are spiralling, try this: narrate your thoughts to yourself by saying, ‘I am having the thought that…’ or ‘I am having a feeling of…’

There’s an important mental shift that comes when you switch from I’m scared to I’m having a feeling of fear. In the first, you’re locked into the feeling. In the second, you identify your emotion and can think about it. You can do something about it.

And by doing something about your emotion, whether it’s switching off the news and putting on an old comedy show or telling yourself that you’re going to sing Dance Monkey twice in a row the next time you wash your hands, you’re also doing something about your anxiety.

Which means that when you’re done, you can do something else instead.

#anxiety #coronavirus #covid-19

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