Coping with Coronavirus Anxiety

April 9, 2020

Dearest friends,

Let’s face it, ALL of us are struggling with tremendous anxiety and fear these days. Not knowing what the future holds, feeling like we have lost control of our lives, and so many other emotions are flooding me every day, making it hard for me to concentrate, making it hard for me to focus, even sometimes making it hard for me to breathe. I’m sure I am not alone in this. And if I’m feeling this way as an adult, I’m sure a lot of kids and teens out there are worried and scared as well. As someone who has struggled with anxiety for a good part of my life, I’ve got a few tools in my “mental toolbox” that help me when I’m in a negative spiral of worry or anxiety or fear, and I want to share some of these with you. These links and videos may help your kids learn how to “ground” themselves, which is a way to interrupt a chain of fearful and anxious thoughts when it occurs.  We are all in this together.  — Mary M, Library Director

New Jersey Coronavirus Pandemic Guide – Senator Cory Booker’s office has put together a comprehensive list of resources for New Jerseyans who have been affected by the pandemic. Here you can find information on how to file for unemployment, emergency paid leave, and all sorts of other useful contact info for services and support.

On April 27th, the New York Daily News reported that the CDC added six symptoms to the list of possible signs of COVID-19 infection. “Chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and new loss of taste or smell have been added to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list that until now only included fever, cough and shortness of breath.” Read the full article here.

Coronavirus Sanity Guide – “Freaking out? You’re not alone – and you’re not malfunctioning. We’re in a moment of uncertainty and anxiety.”  This site from reporter Dan Harris, who has written books on the topic of how meditation has helped him manage his anxiety and become 10% happier, includes an ever-growing list of tools to help us manage our anxiety and worry. Every day, at 3pm Eastern time, Dan invites us to join him for a “live-stream sanity break“at tenpercent.com/live.

I also found this article, How Fear Distorts Our Thinking About The Coronavirus, very interesting. We like to think of ourselves as rational thinkers, but scores of studies have shown that not only are we irrational and believe weird things, but we are all the same in the ways our thinking gets distorted! If you want to dive even deeper into this topic, you may be interested in checking out Dan Ariely’s 2008 eBook Predictably Irrational (also available as an audiobook) on Hoopla. I thought it was a really interesting read (and humbling to realize how prone I am — how we ALL are – to misreading situations and information.

How Long can Coronavirus Live on Surfaces? This April 9, 2020 article from The Cut explains how the CDC believes coronavirus is spread, and how much to worry from picking it up by touching surfaces. (Hint: wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face when you’re out in public, and it will go a long way towards protecting yourself!)

No, you don’t need to disinfect your groceries – Should you disinfect my groceries? This article from April 12, 2020 by National Public Radio provides tips on how to shop safely, and why you don’t need to wipe all the items you bought down when you get home.

Should you clean your phone to combat coronavirus? Definitely.. maybe. This March 12, 2020 article from the Wall Street Journal  provides some practical tips (and advice from medical professionals) about how worried you need to be about your phone being a germ carrier.

Coping with COVID-19 Anxiety when Everyone’s Home – a quick read. “It’s normal for kids to feel anxious during these times. Here’s how you can help them stay emptionally and physically healthy during the crisis.”

Help Kids Manage Worry: 10 Grounding Exercises for Kids – Counselor Keri writes, “Grounding techniques are a powerful tool to help kids to connect to the here and now and interrupt spiraling worries. Here are 10 of my favorite grounding exercises to help kids manage worry and anxiety.”

Square Breathing – this simple technique helps kids manage their overwhelming emotions by helping them focus on the moment and regain calm. Here is a very good YouTube video that you can watch with your kids to learn this technique. Then, remind your child to practice this when they feel overwhelmed by their emotions. Eventually, it will become a habit.

Breathing and stretching GoNoodle has a very good YouTube video that you can watch with your kids to help them practice breathing and stretching, which are a couple of great tools to relieve anxiety.

And let’s not forget the power of getting up and dancing around as a way to blow off steam and relieve stress! One of our favorite videos to encourage this is the Trolls video of Can’t Stop The Feeling, which you can find on Go Noodle at https://youtu.be/KhfkYzUwYFk.

I also recently bought some digital books about anxiety (for all age groups – kids, teens and adults) for our ebook collection. Just go to palsplus.overdrive.com and search for anxiety. With your Wanaque library card, you can check out some of these books. Having problems accessing these items? Just email us at wanaquelibrary@gmail.com for help.

Do you have a suggestion? What tips and tools do you use to manage your anxiety or your kids’ anxiety? Please email us at wanaquelibrary@gmail.com if you have a suggestion for us to add to this list.