As with the rest of the world, Nigeria is currently dealing with the COVID–19 pandemic, we have heard a lot about how to protect ourselves from corona virus, but less on how to protect ourselves from anxiety. It is also not news that a lot of people are struggling to adjust to this “new normal.” In Nigeria, experts have said approximately 25-30 percent of Nigerians are suffering from depression and other mental illnesses., there are predictions that there will be a spike in anxiety and depression cases diagnosed due to COVID-19. If your anxiety, fear, and worry has been overwhelming, then you want to consider practicing these nine strategies
- Media Distancing: We’ve had to practice social distancing to stop the spread of COVID-19. But to stop the spread of anxiety, we must distance ourselves from the media. All anxiety stems from uncertainty and an active imagination which produces catastrophic thoughts. With the lockdown, fear of the unknown, consistent inflow of news (both fake and real), increasing numbers of sufferers and deaths, lack of jobs, loss of jobs, incessant robbery attacks in various parts of Nigeria and worst of all, hunger, it isn’t surprising that statistics show that the rates of anxiety and depression is on the rise in Nigeria at this period. Considering multiple sources of information available, including fake news, anxiety can easily be reinforced. According to Muideen Owolabi Bakare, Chief Consultant Psychiatrist (Consultant Special Grade 1), Head, Child and Adolescent Unit, Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Enugu, we must ensure to seek information from reliable sources, such as NCDC and WHO websites” The more anxious you feel, the more you should distance from the media. And if you are extremely fearful, stop watching and reading altogether. Stop checking the latest news about the virus (as well as your investments). Any vital information you need to know; you will find out.
- Do Not Engage with Worry.Take Action: Whether you are worried about contracting the virus, your struggling business, or being unemployed, the more you focus on worst-case scenarios, the more anxious you feel. You can’t stop thoughts from entering your mind, but you can choose to stop dwelling and you can choose to take action to solve problems. In this case, there’s no point worrying over something you have no control over. There is a huge difference between worrying and problem solving. Anxiety will try to bait you with many “what if” questions. Don’t answer them. Seek creative measures to get you through this storm until everything returns to normal. None of these measures will be comfortable but do not to stop it. Much of anxiety stems from a lack of confidence in our ability to handle challenges. Push yourself to take one uncomfortable step at a time. With financial stress these steps might include seeking out loans, asking for help, paying portions of bills, cutting back on spending, and finding creative ways to make money including monetizing your knowledge. The goal is to stay afloat until we get over this because it will pass.
- Focus on Present Odds: All deaths are tragic, but we must maintain proper perspective. The vast majority of people infected with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms or no symptoms at all. And the mortality rate if you do contract the virus ranges from 1.4% to 3% (The exact mortality rate is unknown at this time). The number of deaths will continue to climb (and the news will report every one) and yet, the chance of you or a loved-one dying is still remote, especially with everyone’s effort to maintain distance and isolate. But death is possible and that’s why anxious people take the bait and dwell. Possibility becomes probability. Remind yourself of the present odds, which are very good.
- Do Not React to Physical Symptoms: If you cough, it does not mean you have the COVID-19. The same is true for others who cough. Allergies, bronchitis, post-nasal drip, and the cold are more common and a more likely explanation. Accept uncertainty as you do in other areas of life and assume what is most likely. Do not scan your body looking for symptoms. Do not ask check Google for symptoms.This behavior reinforces your worries and will increase anxiety. And if you are worried about your investments, stop checking those as well.
- Focus on Being Productive and New Ways of Enjoying Life: Although we have no control over this pandemic, we must focus on where we do have control – our response to the crisis. This is an opportunity to try something new and do things we haven’t had time for. You can also learn a new skill or start a new hobby from videos on You Tube or various apps and websites. Creating and accomplishing puts your attention on what is satisfying. Consider starting something new. Put your attention on creating and accomplishing, not on the virus or being unemployed.
- Engage in Stress Reduction Activities: Focusing on what you are grateful for, exercising your body, and relaxing your mind will help give you the peace you desire. Guided meditation, yoga, exercise, and a gratitude journal are all practices that lower stress. Select one or two, learn about them so you do them correctly, and practice each day. If you and your loved ones are not severely sick or experiencing dire financial hardship, be grateful. Once this crisis has passed, perhaps we will all appreciate what we take for granted: a healthy society, freedom to gather, dinner with friends, a night at the movies, and a simple haircut.
- Preserve Some Sense of Normalcy:
You can maintain your day as you normally do with modifications. Be creative. Instead of exercising at the gym, workout inside your home or in your neighborhood. Have a dinner with friends over a video chat platform and watch the same movie at the same time with a sync-watching app. Attend a live religious service online. Maintaining a structure to your day and some semblance of normalcy will help reduce anxiety.
- Be Kind to Yourself and Others and Have Faith: It’s normal to feel anxious and worried during a national crisis. Reaching out to relatives and friends who are isolated or in need will boost their spirits and yours. If you are in good financial standing, be grateful and continue to pay others for the services they cannot provide. If you are unemployed or your business is suffering, your new job is to weather this storm as best as you can until it passes. It always passes. Have faith that it will, despite not having all the answers. Having faith or imagining the worst is a choice. Which one will you choose?
- Seek Out Professional Help: You don’t need to do this alone. If you are experiencing an escalation of anxiety, talk to a professional who can help you through this difficult time. Almost all therapists are online, so you are not limited to professionals in your area. Medication for anxiety, depression, and insomnia might also be needed and can be prescribed by a psychiatrist or your primary care physician. Check out https://project-covid.ng/ or send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org