Coronavirus: Anxiety Trigger Overload

March 4, 2020

As a mother, a sister, a relative, a daughter, and a friend; and as a perimenopausal woman in her 50’s who is prone to anxiety; and as a human whose immune system is compromised so she gets sick very easily¹, the Coronavirus ‘pandemic’ has pushed all my buttons to elevate my anxiety to levels I’ve not experienced before.  On the back of such a traumatic start to 2020, is it any wonder.

This kind of virus outbreak situation is like nothing I’ve seen before in my lifetime. It’s everywhere you turn. There’s no avoiding it. No possibility of pretending it’s not happening. It’s on my phone. It’s on my computer. It’s on my TV. It’s in the conversations with friends and family. It’s on your mind every time someone sneezes, sniffs, or coughs near you. It’s not just overseas anymore. It’s on our doorstep.

I’ve seen articles and posts by some people who think it’s all an over-reaction and there’s too much panic. I’ve seen articles and posts by people who say the polar opposite. If you refer back to my first paragraph, you can see why Coronavirus has pushed my anxiety buttons to the max. In all honesty, I believe this is not a time to be complacent. We all have a responsibility to take steps to protect not just ourselves but others and do whatever we can to reduce/prevent the possibility of further spread.

I don’t wish to add to the frenzy or panic around this virus but I do want to 1) acknowledge the mental health effects from the fear caused by this outbreak, and share a few tips that might be useful, and 2) share a few basic steps to help protect ourselves and prevent further spread.

In October and November last year, I spent two months very sick with pneumonia from a RUN OF THE MILL VIRUS.  To anyone who is elderly, or has immunity issues, or whose health is compromised in some way which leaves them vulnerable, they too would be feeling anxious about the Coronavirus. The young and healthy may not be so anxious, but they still need to be cautious and take appropriate precautions – for themselves and for the benefit of those around them!

These days I’m home a lot more than in prior years. If I go out it’s mostly local or over to the other side of Brisbane to visit my Mum or over to Wacol to the RSPCA in my capacity as foster carer. I no longer travel on public transport. I no longer sit all day in concrete buildings with recirculating airconditioning that picks up the germs of all its occupants. However, the tennis player (hubby) and my two sons do travel on public transport every day. They do sit in those concrete buildings with recirculating airconditioning, and they come home every evening to me. This is how I have got the last two viruses that have made me sick – the one that put me in hospital in October/November 2019 and the one that I am currently still recovering from (which thankfully has not turned to pneumonia or put me in hospital).

So what can I do to protect myself?  What can I do to calm my anxiety?  What can others do to protect and calm themselves too?

Steps for Protection and Prevention

    1. Wash your hands often with soap and water.  Refer to the demonstration on how to properly wash your hands in the video below.

2. Keep distance from anyone who is coughing and/or sneezing (at least 1 metre)

3. Avoid touching your face – in particular your eyes, nose and mouth

4. Cover your mouth and nose if you sneeze and/or cough (to protect the people around you). See demonstration in video bellow.

5. If you have a fever, cough or breathing problems please stay home and seek medical care

6. Ensure that everyone in your family and/or those living in your home follows all of the above tips

Coping with Stress and Anxiety as a result of this outbreak 

    1. Familiarise yourself with the protection and prevention steps above
    2. Maintain a healthy lifestyle – eg good diet, sleep, exercise
    3. Don’t resort to smoking or alcohol to deal with stress
    4. Speak to your doctor if you have any particular concerns or need reassurance on preventative protective measures
    5. Limit the time that you expose yourself to media coverage that elevates your stress and anxiety
    6. Self Care. Self Care. Self Care!  Draw on the usual things you do to help yourself when you’re feeling stressed, down and/or anxious. Do nice things for yourself to calm yourself – eg walks in nature, a soak in a bath, meditation, lunch with a friend etc

It’s only natural that this Coronavirus outbreak will increase anxiety and stress amongst us, but let’s try and step up looking after ourselves and others because too much stress will only makes matters worse and we are all worth looking after don’t you think?

Have you felt your anxiety and stress levels elevate lately? I hope the tips within this post might help you. Feel free to share any further tips in the comments. Wishing you good health and happiness always.

Ciao for now,

¹  I have an Immunoglobulin A deficiency, Hypothyroidism. and basically I’ve never had a very strong constitution. I was a sickly child, had asthma through my childhood and in my 20’s and when I get sick it generally lays me low longer than the average person.

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  • Reply Serena McDonald March 4, 2020 at 8:36 am

    I agree that protecting yourself from the relentless news cycle can only be beneficial to reducing stress relating to coronavirus.
    As a person who does not have an underlying health issue I find the news stressful I can only imagine what that would be like if I had a compromised immune system. Take Care.

    • Reply Min March 5, 2020 at 9:19 am

      Thanks Serena. I have had to stop watching the news. The constant updates and fear mongering is too much.

  • Reply Michele March 4, 2020 at 8:47 am

    I have not felt an undue amount of anxiety over this. I understand that it is spreading, but we have not seen in in or area and only one case in our entire state. It has affected me in tht I will have to cancel a trip to Italy in April. You have shared a sensible approach to dealing with the inevitable virus without panic.

    • Reply Min March 5, 2020 at 9:19 am

      Such a shame about your trip to Italy Michele. I hope you can postpone and go again when everything settles down.

  • Reply Joanne Tracey March 4, 2020 at 1:38 pm

    I’ve taken the head in the sand approach – to a certain extent. When I’m on public transport or flying I’m taking care to wash hands more diligently than usual & when we were at the hospital in Canberra last weekend visiting Grant’s mum we were sterilising hands on entry and exit. Other than that I’m more anxious about the panic than the virus. I imagine though if I was older or had been through what you did last year I would probably think differently.

    • Reply Min March 5, 2020 at 9:21 am

      The panic toilet paper buying is ridiculous. I can understand food items a bit more, but toilet paper? For me, the fear is actually getting the virus. The two months I was very sick with pneumonia is very fresh in my mind and I realise I am more vulnerable than most.

  • Reply Shelagh Murray March 4, 2020 at 2:49 pm

    I think this is a very sensible reaction, and I’m impressed that you’re able to take a step back from your own anxiety and help others to perhaps feel less anxious. I fall into the ‘it’s probably no worse than many other things that could happen to us, you’re more likely to fall under a bus’ camp – but I’m not saying I’m right to think like that!!

    • Reply Min March 5, 2020 at 9:25 am

      Thanks Shelagh – I’m aware that if this is all making me worried and anxious then I’m sure there are others feeling the same way. I’m particularly thinking of those that are more vulnerable with their immune systems as it’s quite scary having this doom and gloom threat out there and the constant media fear mongering is not helpful.

  • Reply Deborah March 4, 2020 at 3:54 pm

    I’m generally home a lot as well and my closest neighbour is at least 100m away. I’ve not seen anything like it and most people internationally say swine flu (and mad cow disease) was the last time this happened. (And I don’t think it impacted on us as much here in Aus.)

    It can certainly be triggering though. I watch far too much dystopian (end of world) TV stuff and the world always ends by something obscure… then the power goes off, resources become limited etc… I can’t even imagine that scenario however.

    • Reply Min March 5, 2020 at 9:27 am

      It’s interesting because I never became particularly worried or anxious over swine flu or bird flu or any of those but I don’t think they spread as rapidly or as far and wide. Also probably social media and so on wasn’t as much a part of our culture as now so it probably wasn’t so much in my face!

  • Reply Leanne | March 4, 2020 at 10:11 pm

    It’s a tricky one Min – I’m one of the people who think the whole thing has been blown completely out of proportion (and what’s with all the panic buying of toilet paper???) But I’m low risk for catching it – I live in a small country area and I’m healthy and not prone to anxiety. I totally understand why it would concern you with your respiratory past history. I think it’s back to being alert but not alarmed, washing your hands a lot and staying as far away from crowds as possible. I hope it all blows over soon.
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 😊

    • Reply Min March 5, 2020 at 9:30 am

      I’m not sure what to think Leanne, but as I’m a bit more vulnerable than most its pretty hard to not feel some anxiety over it particularly after the two months of being very sick that I had towards the end of last year. I’m lucky that I’m not circulating with lots of people anymore – public transport and working in the city etc BUT my sons and hubby do and so I keep urging them to please wash their hands regularly and so on and get the inevitable eye rolls but I have to say it! The panic toilet paper buying is ridiculous. I don’t really understand that! I hope it all blows over soon too. xo

  • Reply suzanne vosbikian March 4, 2020 at 10:55 pm

    I remember your bout with pneumonia and subsequent hospitalization a few months back. That would be enough to make me very concerned also. I have always wiped down the grocery cart and avoid people as much as possible when shopping, but my weekly mahjong group and tennis buddies are virtual germ factories. We take precautions but no one is staying home, yet. I worry more for my daughter, who is at a conference this week, in one of those recirculated air conditioned rooms with hordes of people from across the country. We have a flight to Vancouver, followed by an Alaska cruise booked for late May. Talked to the travel agent yesterday about the possibility of canceling without penalties. We are in a wait and see mode and trying to not over react. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and be well.

    • Reply Min March 5, 2020 at 9:33 am

      Hi Suzanne – Yes the two months sick with pneumonia was awful and very fresh in my mind. I plan to go on living life as normal but stepping up the regularity of hand washing and avoiding anyone who is sick. I don’t plan on any air travel till this all passes though as the risk to me is not worth it. I do plan a beach holiday away though – within driving distance. Best of luck with your holiday – it’s such a shame isn’t it to have to worry about these things and have them intrude on our plans.

  • Reply Enda Sheppard March 4, 2020 at 11:38 pm

    I suppose I ignore it, largely. But I can see how someone with respiratory conditions would be anxious. I just hope it is contained soon!

    • Reply Min March 5, 2020 at 9:34 am

      I wish I could ignore it Enda but sadly I can’t – for the reasons explained within this post. I’m not panicking though – just taking appropriate precautions and reducing my exposure to all the fear mongering in the media! I hope it is contained and over with soon too.

  • Reply Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond March 5, 2020 at 6:37 am

    I’m a little over the ‘panic’ of the coronavirus Min although I’ve always taken general sanitising precautions especially when I’m around the grandchildren. I can see how those with low immunity would be anxious but it is important not to get overwhelmed with the media frenzy that is out there. Take care and thanks for sharing at #MLSTL. xx

    • Reply Min March 5, 2020 at 9:36 am

      I’m over the panic surrounding Coronavirus too Sue. In fact I am sick of hearing the C word at all! Every time I turn on the TV there it is .. so the TV is largely off nowadays. I’m stepping up the hand washing, avoiding sick people, urging my hubby and sons to please step up the hand washing and so on and that’s about all I can do. xo

  • Reply Christine March 5, 2020 at 12:33 pm

    It is a very serious issue the world is facing, but try to be careful without being too alarmed, even though you’re coming off the back of being ill. I saw a post this morning with a lot of statistics that puts the issue in perspective. I’ll put it up on my Facebook page later today. You’ve still got more chance of winning the lottery than getting the virus. I’m personally not stressing about it although I’m being as vigilant as I can. I have two auto-immune conditions and am on medication to suppress my immune system, which probably does make me more vulnerable but I’m still not going to panic. and I’m off on a plane tomorrow! I’ve actually done a blog today laughing at all the memes – you might have to ignore that one.

    • Reply Min March 7, 2020 at 7:48 am

      Hope you’re right Christine! I’d rather win the Lottery! lol Enjoy your trip! xo

  • Reply Sydney Shop Girl March 5, 2020 at 1:41 pm

    Thank you for your sensible and practical discussion today. There is so much hysteria in the media right now. It’s hard not to get caught up in it as an individual.

    SSG xxx

    • Reply Min March 7, 2020 at 7:48 am

      Thanks SSG – yes the media sure don’t make it easy to stay calm! xo

  • Reply Erica/Erika March 5, 2020 at 1:56 pm

    A wonderful post, Min, clearly describing this unique challenge. I agree not to add to the panic, yet acknowledge the situation and share steps to protect and prevent.

    Min, I especially like how you focused on what we have control over and the importance of mental health. Thank you for sharing! I am also sharing on SM and #MLSTL

    • Reply Min March 7, 2020 at 7:49 am

      Thanks so much Erica xo

  • Reply Debbie Harris March 5, 2020 at 9:26 pm

    I’m with you Min, on top of a dreadful start to 2020 with drought, bushfires, hail storms, now flooding rain and this virus, it is hard not to be stressed and anxious. Your advice is very reasonable and thoughtful and I ‘d rather listen to sensible people like you than many we see on TV. You do need to take care of yourself so I understand your concerns. I worry about my new grandson and Dottie in England who already has issues relating to being born so early. She’s actually in hospital at the moment with some complications from a cold virus. It’s just so hard at times not to stress! Great post shared for #mlstl

    • Reply Min March 7, 2020 at 7:51 am

      Hi Deb – thanks for your kind words. I’m so sorry to hear little Dottie is in hospital. I hope she is ok! It’s hard not to worry isn’t it, particularly for those more vulnerable – but best to just take appropriate precautions, breathe and not let the panic and mania in the media get to us. xo

  • Reply Pradeep Nair March 5, 2020 at 11:14 pm

    It is quite natural that there will be some amount of panic since this disease is caused by a new virus about which we don’t much. What is a big consolation is that the mortality rate is very low. Even in China, it’s a little over 2.5%, which is not negligible either.
    One thing that the epidemic has popularised is the need for good personal hygiene especially the importance of handwashing.

    • Reply Min March 7, 2020 at 7:52 am

      Thanks for your reassuring words Pradeep! Yes personal hygiene has always been important but even more so nowadays with these ‘super bugs’ about!

  • Reply Natalie March 5, 2020 at 11:19 pm

    Min, I understand how you feel anxious after recently been sick with pneumonia. You’re taking a sensible approach. I follow the advice by Public Health in my city and continue my day as usual. #lovin’life

    • Reply Min March 7, 2020 at 7:53 am

      Thanks Natalie – yes life as usual here too, but with additional precautions! xo

  • Reply Denyse Whelan March 6, 2020 at 12:21 pm

    What a great and helpful post Min. That is such good coverage. I am sorry your health is compromised. You have had a rough trot as they say. I would understand feeling anxious after what you went through with pneumonia.

    My husband and I are in the over 70s group now but I am in good health, he has some issues but we are vigilant and have good GP care. We will be having the flu vaccine as soon as our GP agrees to issue it. He is waiting till April.

    Denyse. #mlstl

    • Reply Min March 7, 2020 at 7:55 am

      Thanks Denyse – yes I’ve had a bit of a rough trot lately but then so have you (more so) and many others. I’ll be getting the flu shot too as soon as it’s available. I wanted to have the pneumococcal vaccine and I have a prescription for it but it’s out of stock everywhere – can’t get it!

  • Reply Leslie Susan Clingan March 7, 2020 at 1:39 pm

    Coincidentally, or perhaps not, we are watching 20/20’s 2 hour special on the corona virus. My daughter is immune suppressed and has just had a baby, so I worry for her. I can empathize with your anxiety. I am anxiety prone, too, and have a feeling this virus is worse than we have been led to believe. We did our monthly grocery shopping at the military commissary on Ft. Bliss Monday and the shelves were bare in places. Of course, the weekend before was a payday weekend but I felt like people were also shopping in response. concern to the virus.
    Thank you for sharing the hand washing video clip. Years ago when I was still working, our school nurse had all of us put some kind of chemical onto our hands to represent germs. Then we were told to wash our hands as we normally would. Ha! I was shocked. Apparently to that point, I didn’t wash my thumbs well!! I am doing much better ever since. But the video shows washing the tips of your fingers by scrubbing them on your palms. Great advice!!
    Try to stay as calm as you can. I think the more we stay out of crowds, public places, the better for now…to avoid flu, corona, any contagion. I am supposed to fly to Houston in 2 weeks where there have been several cases reported. Going for a conference but to visit my sister, too. Wondering if the conference will be canceled. And if so, should I go to see my sister or take that as a sign that I should stay home!

    • Reply Min March 14, 2020 at 8:23 am

      Hi Leslie, it’s worrying times isn’t it? I agree it’s best to avoid public places and stay home as much as possible at the moment. I’ve just advised my pilates instructor I won’t be coming anymore until this is over. At Wednesday’s class a girl coughed all through it. It’s not worth the risk. Stay safe! xo

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