By Hashil al Hatmi
Some say that dwelling in the past means that one is feeling depressed and that dwelling on the future means that one is anxious. Not knowing what lies ahead can be frightening for any person. It is because one does not know for sure if tomorrow will bring about a positive or negative outcome. It is as if there is a wall, a gigantic wall, in front of us, and our job is to climb up that wall in order to get to the other side, not knowing what lies ahead.
A perfect example of this is when a young boy or girl first learns to swim or ride a bicycle. They do not know whether they will fall off the bike and be laughed at or will they managed to ride without falling. Or even when you know someone who is undergoing major surgery, even minor, nobody can say for sure if it will be successful or not.
All of these thoughts and emotions are perfectly normal and do not count as a sign of pure insanity. For indeed, acute stress can motivate and drive people to work harder and achieve positive outcomes, in comparison to those people who become pessimistic and perceive their future as dark and clouded with failure. Leading to more feelings and thoughts of negativity and low-mood, and hence affecting their lives personally, socially, and professionally as well.
There are different types of anxiety that people experience. One of them is called generalised anxiety disorder or GAD. It is characterised by the persistent and excessive worry of a variety of things, such as one’s health, relationships, work, finances, and daily activities. The physical sensations and signs that people who worry excessively experience include irritability, muscle tension, sleep disturbance, and difficulty in concentrating. They find it extremely difficult to control their fear and tend to report that their worries are usually interfering with everyday matters.
GAD is separate from panic disorder, which comprises of repeated unexpected panic attacks. Panic attacks are episodes of intense fear or distress that reaches a peak within minutes. It is associated with symptoms such as breathlessness, dizziness, nausea, tingling sensations in the arms and fingers, chest pain, and feelings of choking, as well as signs like sweating and trembling.A person who experiences panic attacks is usually concerned about having attacks in future. Moreover, people experiencing these two types of anxiety tend to excessively overthink about the future, what is known as the uncertain, what we can imagine but yet cannot see.
Due to the uncertainty of what the future might contain or what one may anticipate of good and positive outcomes, people either experiencing excessive worry or panicking have a more catastrophic perception of what lies ahead.
As the outbreak of COVID-19 continues to expand and the pandemic rises so rapidly that mankind struggles to keep up with what is happening around the four corners of the planet, fear of uncertainty is the top concern for humanity. When will it end? A question that is constantly asked by every individual, family, community, society, nation and continent.
From people grieving over their loved ones who have died due to this crisis to the economy scattered into pieces and parents struggling to entertain their kids whilst remain productive when working remotely. Indeed it is a time where many perceive it to be some sort of Armageddon.
Below are some tips on how to manage your fear and worries over COVID-19.
Taking Necessary Precautions
● Washing your hands frequently (for at least 20 seconds) with soap and water or a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
● Avoiding touching your face (particularly your eyes, nose, and mouth).
● Staying home as much as possible, even if you don’t feel sick.
● Avoiding crowds and gatherings of 10 or more people.
● Avoiding all non-essential shopping and travel.
● Keeping 6 feet of distance between yourself and others when out.
● Following all recommendations from health authorities.
Stress Management Tips
● Preoccupying your time at in productivity.
● Having a daily schedule.
● Utilising your time at home to help your family.
● Practice relaxation techniques and mindfulness exercises.
● Balancing your time online and offline.
● Limiting social media news about COVID-19
● Write down the positives that this pandemic has brought to your life.
● Connect with your family and friends virtually.
● Donate to healthcare services.
The author is a Psychological Practioner at the Royal Hospital.
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