| By Alexandra, 7th grade |
April 2020 … The coronavirus pandemic has made it difficult for many people to cope with the anxiety and stress that come with it and with the social isolation designed to control spread of the virus.
To find ways to deal with that anxiety, my East Norriton Bulldog Bulletin newspaper team and I talked to Dr. Nancy Petersmeyer, a Philadelphia psychiatrist, in a virtual conference call. Here is an edited version of our conversation
How should we deal with the anxiety that comes with information about the virus?
Acknowledge the information, but then turn it off, says Dr. Petersmeyer. She says that we should understand the information, know what precautions to take, but not allow those thoughts to continue to come up and worry us.
What kind of information would help us deal with the virus?
There are things you can tell yourself, Dr. Petersmeyer says. They include washing your hands often, ensuring you don’t touch your face, staying six feet away from others, and disinfecting things that have been in public places.
Should we watch the news, or will it cause even more anxiety?
Dr. Petersmeyer says we should be careful when watching the news or reading about the virus online. A lot of false or incomplete information can be found on the internet, she says. She says that television news channels tend to be unnecessarily repetitive and that can increase anxiety. Dr. Petersmeyer suggests listening to factual reports, like a medical analysis of the virus.
She also suggests not to focus on the numbers. When we hear the number of people infected, we start to worry, but we don’t know what percent of the ill people are in relation to the total U.S. population.
How do we stop anxiety?
Every once in a while, ask yourself if you are feeling anxious about the virus, Dr. Petersmeyer suggests, adding that training yourself to recognize your anxiety is one of the most important things to controlling it. Once you realize you are anxious, do some deep breathing exercises and try meditation, Dr. Petersmeyer suggests. Overall, she says, the best thing we can do to stop anxiety is to remind ourselves that we will get through this.
Editor’s Note: A highly reliable source of information about the coronavirus, including measures for avoiding it, is the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a United States government agency. Click the link to reach the site.
If you want to check out whether something you hear or read about the virus is true or false, check out Snopes.com, also a trustworthy website.