With the coronavirus outbreak disrupting academics, travel, housing, and daily life, many people are feeling uneasy, anxious or stressed. We want to share with you that we feel exactly the same way. It’s only normal that our brain generates all sorts of scary thoughts and uncomfortable feelings in response to something novel and frightening like this. In such situations, we could easily kick into the fight or flight response automatically.
Here are some strategies that you can start using now to help maintain your health and well-being over the next couple weeks.
If you’re concerned about your health and safety:
Stick to the facts. Look to official government or health authorities and mainstream news outlets to get the most accurate information about the coronavirus, rather than depending on social media. We recommend the ASU Novel Coronavirus Updates page as the best source of information.
Limit the time you spend looking for updates. Checking the news and social media constantly for coronavirus updates is likely to increase stress and fear. Limit yourself to checking 2-3 times per day, no more than 10-15 minutes at a time.
Shift your attention to other meaningful activities. Replace the time you usually spend on social media with other meaningful activities in life such as focusing on academics, connecting with family and friends, self care activities and simply having fun by reading an enjoyable book or watching a movie.
Be responsible for your own health. If you are in an area with coronavirus cases, take actions that are known to be effective for prevention - wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your face. No matter where you are, boost your immune system and lower your stress by eating well, sleeping enough, and exercising.
Contact ASU Health Services. Call them at 480-965-3349.
If you’re anxious about your academic progress:
Contact the ASU Dean of Students Office: Email email@example.com or call 480-965-6547.
Accept what you can’t control. As you make decisions about your academic plans, don’t hold yourself responsible for factors outside of your control, such as travel restrictions.
Start a daily routine now. Having unstructured time may increase feelings of restlessness or anxiety, so consider creating a daily schedule to help maintain the mindset of being in school. Adjust your sleep to regular hours and spend some time each day reading or engaging in academic subjects that interest you. Don’t forget to schedule time for exercise, eating, relaxing, and talking to friends - these are all part of your routine during the semester.
Take a breath and be patient. It can feel frustrating to wait for a response from a staff member or for another community update, but trust that everyone is doing their best to respond, share information, and solve problems. If you feel like an email was overlooked, send a gentle follow-up rather than assuming the worst.
If you’re feeling lonely or disconnected:
Stay connected with others. Seek out ways to have fun with friends and family around you, and make time to call or chat with friends in other places. Share information and feelings with the ones you trust. If you are worried about the health of friends or classmates, be sure to reach out to them - this will help both of you feel positive and comforted.
Use voice or video call. While texting and typing is the go-to communication method for most of us, it doesn’t replace the connection we feel from face to face interactions. Talking to friends in person is a big part of your routine at school, so try to keep it up during this time.
Seek out classmates. Consider forming study groups or peer emotional support groups to share feelings and thoughts. Set up a time to call or video chat each day, maybe over lunch or in the afternoon when you are
usually done with class.
Take this time to deepen relationships. Is there a friend you have time to connect with now that you are both home with more down time? Could you find more time to hang out with your roommate when you may sometimes go days without having time for a full conversation? Can you schedule time to catch up with family members over the phone or video chat?
If you feel your anxiety is exceeding the normal limits and the above strategies are not enough:
Seek professional help. If you are experiencing increased anxiety or stress related to concerns for family or friends, please contact ASU Counseling Services at 480-965-6146 to speak with a counselor. They are here to help.
Adopt a strength based perspective. Anxiety is a very common and useful human emotion that most of us have a lot of experience with. Reflect on the ways you dealt with challenges in the past, and think about how you can apply those same skills now. Think about what helped you particularly in the past - maybe thinking rationally, engaging in positive self-talk, chatting with someone you trust, or eating your favorite food. Try to do more of that which has proved effective for you personally.
Start your mindfulness practice. Mindfulness activities such as meditation are proven to be helpful in such situations. If you have tried this before, it’s time to resume. If you have never had experience with this, here are two links to get you started: 5-minute Eating Meditation, Anxiety Relief Guided Meditation