How to Handle the Fear Surrounding the Coronavirus Outbreak

Don't ignore your emotions, but rather acknowledge them to help improve your mental health during this time of fear and uncertainty.

When I heard that my speaking engagement in California had been canceled, I was angry!

Every time I read about how to wash my hands, I felt stupid!

When I heard about a few pro athletes and actor Tom Hanks testing positive for COVID-19, I was scared!

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It's an unprecedented time. We are in the darkness and have never experienced anything that resembles living in the movie "I Am Legend."
Big events are being canceled or delayed: the NCAA Tournament, the NBA and NHL seasons, Opening Day for Major League Baseball. It seems like the entire country is on lockdown. College athletic conferences and schools have suspended entire upcoming seasons! It's hysteria.
No one knows exactly how these dots will connect. We will only be able to connect them when looking back after these events have passed. The fallout will be bad: Many people who can't work because of cancelations will go without paychecks; kids who rely on school for food will go without; those with the virus will suffer and need treatment.
We are in a compromised position as a nation and humanity.
That said...
Here's how the coronavirus might actually improve our mental health.

Know what you're feeling!

When I heard that my speaking engagement in California had been canceled, I was angry!

Every time I read about how to wash my hands, I felt stupid!

When I heard about a few pro athletes and actor Tom Hanks testing positive for COVID-19, I was scared!

When I was informed that the state swim meet for young swimmers was canceled, I was sad!  They've spent months training and now, nothing.

The way out is always the way through, but we improve our own mental health by knowing what we are actually feeling. It is OK to be scared and angry and fearful. But we have to acknowledge the emotions we are feeling. It doesn't mean we have to like the feelings and emotions, but we can't deny them.

Our emotions are like uninvited houseguests. We can't control whether we want them or not. They will make their way in one way or another, so just accept the emotions, acknowledge them, and then ask them to leave when it is time. We want to reject feeling the negative emotions such as fear and anger. However, we would actually improve our mental health if we weren't so busy rejecting our true feelings. Be comfortable being uncomfortable, know what you are feeling.

It's simple, but not easy—knowing what you're feeling means being self-aware and willing to acknowledge the emotions. If we do not transform our pain, we will transmit it! If we don't go through the process of acknowledging our own emotions, then those who are closest to us—family, friends, parents, etc.—will feel the brunt of our anger or fear.

Know the feeling, acknowledge it and, remember, this too shall pass! Then, turn your thoughts toward someone else who you can help and be of service.

Photo Credit: electravk/iStock

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Topics: HEALTH | MENTAL HEALTH