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Experiencing pandemic panic? Here’s how to stop it

By Emilie Poplett | March 30, 2020 | 3 min read | Healthy Lifestyle

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We are living in uncertain times. With the coronavirus altering our daily lives, many of us are experiencing an uptick in anxiety and panic.

If you’re feeling isolated or anxious, you are not alone. These feelings are so common that the CDC has offered tips for managing the emotional toll of covid-19.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is here to support you by expanding virtual access (phone or video appointments) to doctors, including mental health professionals. For more information on that, see our COVID-19 resources for members.

In addition to seeking professional mental health care as needed, here are a few strategies that can help in moments of panic.

Try a grounding exercise

During an anxiety attack, it can help to focus on the present. An easy exercise to help you return to your surroundings is called the 5-4-3-2-1 method. It goes like this:

  • Name five things you see
  • Touch four things
  • Name three things you hear
  • Name two things you smell
  • Acknowledge one thing you can taste

If you are alone, try calling a loved one and going through this exercise together.

Another great grounding exercise is to focus on the soles of your feet. If you can, stand outside in your bare feet. Spend 60 seconds focusing your attention on how your feet feel against the earth.

Set time limits on news consumption

We all need to stay up to date on the latest developments, but constantly keeping up with the news is exhausting. It can also induce panic.

Try scheduling times throughout the day to check the news. Maybe you give yourself 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the afternoon to review trusted news sources. Whatever you decide, stick to it.

Positivity is powerful, so make sure you’re also consuming good news. Puppy pics, sitcoms, live video feeds from the zoo – this is the time to pay attention to the things that make you happy.

Focus on what you can control

So many things are outside of our control right now. We can’t change other people’s behavior, the government’s response to covid-19, or our pre-existing risk factors.

But here are a few things you can control:

  • Washing your hands
  • Keeping your home clean
  • Eating healthy foods
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Talking with your doctor about any mental health concerns

It can help to focus on the proactive steps you can take to stay safe and well.

Mental health is important – now more than ever.

Take care of yourself. Take care of your loved ones. We are all in this together.