Maintaining your mental health during Coronavirus outbreak

Posted at 6:21 PM, Mar 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-13 23:23:25-04

CLEVELAND — Hitting the pause button is important for your mental health as fallout from the coronavirus comes at us fast and furious.

"To watch it all the time we're going to end up with some PTSD symptoms," said Katharine Oh, psychologist.

Every day, events being canceled, changes in the workplace and schools closing are all putting many through the emotional ringer.

"Any of those by themselves would create anxiety, uncertainty, discomfort or anger," said Oh.

While it is important to be aware of new developments, Oh, a psychologist at Cleveland State University says limiting your consumption of coronavirus updates is one of the best lines of defense in protecting your mental health.

“Be skeptical of rumors. Make sure the news comes from a good source but limit it to about twice a day or three times a day," said Oh.

After checking in with what's going on, Oh said if you find yourself feeling anxious, fall back on the practice of mindfulness, which has been taught for hundreds of years.

"Stop and breathe, get in touch with what we're feeling, try to be accepting of whatever we're feeling. If we can stay calm then our immune systems are going to be stronger," said Oh.

Also, remind yourself that others are feeling the same way.

“I'm not alone in this, we're all together in this," said Oh.

That sense of community can easily get lost during a crisis, according to Oh, if anxiety and fear take over.

A perfect example is people storming stores to scoop up necessities like toilet paper and bottled water.

"A scarcity effect comes into play where we think, 'There won't be any of that, I better get all of it that I can,'" said Oh.

So, what can we do to try and move back toward a place of peace and calm during this crisis?

Seek out positive stories, like Kevin Love donating $100,000 to support Cavs arena staff after the NBA suspended the season.

"Really remind us of our shared humanity and also our ability to be generous to come together as a community to help each other," said Oh.

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