Managing anxieties caused by fears of the coronavirus

Dr. Andrew Jacobs, a psychologist at The Royal, recently spoke to Alan Neil, host of CBC’s All in a Day about what individuals can do to manage some of their anxiety surrounding COVID-19. 

Given how quickly the situation has been evolving, it’s no surprise that many people are struggling right now. 

“It’s clear that anxiety goes up the more we perceive there is a threat happening, but what we forget is that our anxiety also goes up when we see our ability to cope, dropping,” says Jacobs. 

Some key points from the interview: 

  1. Keep in mind that anxiety isn’t always a bad thing. “Anxiety is what gets us to act, gets us to move, gets us to take the actions that we need to in order to function,” says Jacobs. 
  2. Remember, you are not helpless! “We have a great deal of tools, and means, and recommendations from very reputable sources on how we can actually work to contain this.”
  3. If someone expresses their fears and worries to you, it’s best to commiserate and share their concerns. Instead of saying “don’t worry,” acknowledge their feelings and talk about a way to work together. “It also helps decrease that sense of isolation that a very anxious person might be feeling,” says Jacobs.
  4. Social isolation doesn’t have to be mental isolation. Jacobs suggests this might be a good time to rekindle old connections. “Maybe it’s time to call someone you haven’t spoken to for months... and to build that community so that you feel that sense of support whether or not you’re seeing the person face to face.”
  5. Reach out for help if you need it. Phone lines at the Distress Centre of Ottawa are open 24/7. 7 days a week

Other things you can do:

Eat balanced meals, try and get a good night’s sleep, and get outside. According to Ottawa Public Health, you can still go outside to take a walk, go to the park, or walk your dog. It’s recommended you avoid crowds and maintain a distance of 1-2 metres (3-6 feet) from those around you, even while outdoors.

You can listen to the CBC interview with Dr. Andrew Jacobs right here.

Listen to this expert from The Royal sharing advice and tips about managing anxiety :

COVID-19: Information for clients and visitors