Avoiding Anxiety in light of COVID-19 by Richard Shank









Avoiding Anxiety in light of COVID-19 by Richard Shank





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Avoiding anxiety in light of COVID-19 by Richard Shank, Pratt Area Chamber of Commerce Member

As the term COVID-19 joins the English language as the most repeated word in our vocabulary, it is time to step back, take a deep breath and recommit ourselves to surviving this ongoing saga with the least amount of anxiety as is possible.
In the March 19 edition of the New York Times, Simon Sethi penned a story which merits further study.  Sethi quotes Dr. Harriet Lerner, a psychologist and author, who spent her career researching the effects of anxiety and fear on individuals, families and larger systems.
Sethi sifted through Lerner’s writings and wrote a story on how we can all stay centered, refrain from succumbing to our worst fears and be better prepared for whatever the collective future holds.
Tips from Dr. Lerner include:

  1. Know the facts. “My advice for coping is the same for all the scary events and possibilities that life brings. Go for the facts—even difficult ones—because anxiety escalates and fantasies flourish in the absence of information.” 
  2. Put the pandemic in perspective. “The current crisis is not the only stressor most of us are dealing with.”
  3. Identify the source of your anxiety. “If we can identify our anxiety-driven reactivity, we can get some distance from it, rather than being propelled into action before we have calmed down enough to do our best thinking.”
  4. Refrain from shaming and blaming. “When survival anxiety is high and goods feel scarce, it’s easy to blame or scapegoat others, forgetting that we are all in this together.”
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. “Now is the time to turn toward each other. We are here to help each other out.”
  6. Don’t procrastinate about preparing for the worst. “Anxiety can push us to under-or-overact.”
  7. Connect. Connect. Connect. “It’s essential to stay in communication with family, friends, neighbors and other resources and find ways to keep calm.”
  8. Don’t skip the self-care. “Slow down, engage in healthy practices and try to sustain regular routines that bring comfort and stability.”
  9. Don’t let fear and anxiety become pandemics too. “We should not let fear lead us into isolation or stop us from acting with clarity, compassion and courage.”
  10.  Practice self-compassion. “This moment calls on us to not only care for others but to also be gentle with ourselves.”

 
As a member of the staff at Hutchinson Regional Medical Center there is no doubt as to the gravity of the situation.

Ken Johnson, President and CEO of Hutchinson Regional Healthcare System, speaking at a Community Health Forum held this week in Hutchinson, called for patience and grace as our community navigates though what he called a very fluid situation. “Planning is important, but resilience and agility becomes the daily challenge because facts, test results and medical guidance are constantly changing,” Johnson said. “We need to offer each other the patience to accept that we will all process this crisis in different ways because this is very disruptive and grace to offer goodwill and courtesy to each other, just because it is the right thing to do.”

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