Your friend has it. The person you have never seen fall sick is now locked in at home with the virus. The colleague at work calls in sick following a positive COVID test. And you’re wondering if you are going to be an addition to the long list of people you know who have managed to contract the virus. It is inevitable that with the rise in the number of cases, you could end up positive. What next? Here’s a guide for what you should consider doing to help you emotionally to tide through the phase.
Being paranoid about COVID will not help
The pandemic started with people being hysterical about the virus. Fortunately, there is much more data available these days as to what will help combat the spread and what is simply just paranoia acting up. So also in the case of contracting the Coronavirus. Being emotionally prepared to deal with it, is far different from expecting that it is most definitely going to happen.
Michael Wusik, a Tampa-based clinical psychologist in an article to Mic, emphasised this saying “It is a really fine line between emotionally preparing to get sick and emotionally expecting to get sick. It is really important to make sure we are not expecting to get sick.”
Prepare your responses in case you should contract COVID
Imaginal exposure could help greatly, say psychologists. This means visualising and preparing mentally for the journey should you get COVID; everything from the time you may start to experience symptoms to when you get tested and discover that you are indeed positive to the isolation part of it to the medications and the support system you can bank on.
This technique of imaginal exposure is used in psychology when a person fears a particular thing and is anxious about it coming to pass. The process helps them confront these fears and come to terms with them. “This is a great way to gauge your reaction to things as well as to notice blind spots, especially if you talk this out with someone else.”
Have a plan of action in case you are stuck at home
Most people are anxious about contracting the virus as they fear being confined to the home and not being able to get out. If you belong to this group, one way of dealing with your anxiety about getting COVID is to come up with a plan of action of how to keep yourself busy while quarantined. In an article to Mic, Wusik suggests “Come up with some projects. Do a puzzle. Learn to draw. Finally, beat the first Mario Brothers. Time can be valuable. Take a pen and paper and dive into your existential crisis and see if you can write your way through it.”
Don’t obsess over the news
Each day the number of Omicron cases tops the previous and goes higher. While it is wise to stay informed about the news and what is going on around you, it is unwise to clog your mind with the things you may be unable to control from where you stand.
The rising number of cases, the misinformation, the amount of clutter that surrounds discussions about COVID and Omicron can only make your anxiety worse and that is the last thing you want for yourself.
Setting a timeframe during which you read the news every day could be a great way of maintaining the balance.
Control the things you can
It can be challenging to be a responsible citizen while others are flouting COVID norms. This is why controlling the things you can such as wearing your mask, social distancing in public spaces, maintaining hygienic protocols could be a great way of protecting yourself but at the same time, it is unwise to obsessively think about others who are not following protocol.
Surfing through Google for scenarios that you imagine to be possible is only a way of building up your fear of the unknown.
Talk it out
Emotional distancing should not be a side effect of physical distancing. It is always great to have a support system to talk to when things aren’t great. It gives you a sense of socialising in spite of the distance and being connected to those who care for you.
Through social media, zoom calls or even phone chats, you can have the support of your close ones. Reach out to a therapist if the anxiety is too much to deal with by yourself.