How to cope with COVID-19 anxiety, according to a psychologist

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, NIAID-RML

A Winnipeg psychologist says it’s normal to feel some anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic but there are ways to cope.

“Anxiety is all about a sense of uncertainty and this is a perfect circumstance where there’s a lot of uncertainty,” Dr. Rehman Abdulrehman said.

But panicking, Abdulrehman said, can turn a difficult situation into something far worse.

“Keep calm and carry on,” he said. “If we panic, it’s not helpful. It creates mass hysteria.”

Abdulrehman said you can manage your worries by focusing on what you can control, such as following the advice of health officials.

“We’re being encouraged to wash our hands and have good hygiene on a regular basis, we’re being encouraged to not shake hands for a period of time,” he said. “This might be a break from the norm and it might cause people to panic but we have to remember this is a time-limited thing.”

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While some changes might be necessary, Abdulrehman said maintaining a sense of routine is important as well.

“Children will look up to that in order for us to be able to have a sense of calm,” he said.

Abdulrehman said you should also limit COVID-19-related news and seek out social supports.

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