Wednesday, March 11, 2020

How To Keep Calm When Everyone Is Freaking Out.

anxiety, news, mental health, Coronavirus, stay calm, stress relief, shift your focus, turn off the news


I know what you're going through right now.

I know that you're experiencing anxiety like you have not experienced in some time.

If ever.

I know that you are feeling all of the symptoms that make you stop and pause and think, what is happening to me - physically?

Take a moment.

Stop and focus on your breathing.

Do not take a deep deep breath - focus on how you're breathing right this second.

If your breathing pattern feels rushed, sit down, feet on the floor, hands on your chair or couch or whatever you are seated on. Close your eyes (if you want to) for just a minute, and take some very slow and gentle breaths. Use these small moments to regulate your breathing.

And then, then if you need those few deep breaths, take them.

And when you're ready? Open your eyes.

I feel like I should be recording this. Maybe I will do just that. Maybe a little later I'll hop on Facebook Live or Instagram or somewhere and do this with you.

Because everyone is freaking out and I can FEEL it. I can feel it in the quick pace that I am typing these words. I am pounding my keyboard as if I am in a race, as if I must rush and immediately get these words to you.

And in some ways, that is how I feel.

I feel that the importance of taking care of yourself and your mental health during times like these is overlooked. We want so much information. We want to stay on top of things. We want to read all the articles. All the news reports. But we also hate the media. We hate that our friends are sharing things that have no basis. We know they're nervous, too. We know that in times like these anxiety flourishes for even those who have never felt it before.


I'm going to remind you of a few things that will hopefully help you maintain a certain level of calm while everyone around you is losing their cool.

Remind Yourself You've Got This When It Feels Like Too Much.

1. You Are Capable.

You are a grown person. You are capable of following instructions and recommendations. By now you have surely read, heard, and learned all the things you can do to protect yourself in times of a medical crisis.

You are 100% capable of washing your hands regularly. Of cleaning surfaces you touch frequently. Of avoiding crowds. Of NOT shaking hands or hugging your friends, family, and neighbors. Now, y'all don't have to hug your neighbors ever, truly, but in case you normally do? DON'T.

2. You Do Not Need To Watch The News.

Listen, turn the TV (okay, fine, laptop - whatever!) OFF.

O. F. F.

You do not need to watch the news. You will surely see every single story shared on social media a thousand times over. You can read a few headlines and you'll know exactly what the status is - local, national, and yes, world-wide.

Pick up a very lighthearted read. I recommend something like the incredible books that Jasmine Guillory writes. She will offer you an escape that is exactly what you need. Turn on some music. Dance with your kid(s). Sing Yummy really loudly (Yes, I speak from experience. Ssssh. I still like that Bieber kid just a little). Make fun of yourselves. Breathe. You'll feel lighter for having done so.

3. Take A Break From Social Media. 

Just do it, friends. I'm not going to say you have to uninstall the apps, although that could be helpful if you find you can't stop clicking into them - especially if you have work to do - but I will say cut yourself off at a certain time of day/night. Do not let yourself log back in until morning. Please, do this for yourself. Or, if you can't? ONLY check Instagram. It seems to be one of the few viral-free places right now. Somewhat safe. Just promise you won't go searching for things you definitely don't need to be reading before bed, okay?

4. Be Prepared.

I know. I know. What am I, a Boy Scout? Is that their motto? I don't remember, I've been all Girl Scouts all the time since my daughter was about four. 

But seriously, friends. Be prepared. 

I'm not saying buy an entire aisle of toilet paper from Target. (I don't even know if you can get any there - but Amazon definitely has some in stock.)

Think about what you would need on-hand if you were required to stay put for a while. You'd need food, certainly. Do you have extras in your pantry? Do you have a freezer full of quick meals, or meats, or veggies? Buy a few extras while you're doing your next grocery run. Or better, still? Have that stuff delivered. 

I'm not going to include a list in this post, but if you're in need of one I'll try to pull one together in the next day or so. I have my own mental list - which is why I can't just do a quick copy and paste for you. 

But remind yourself, the more prepared you are? The less anxious you will feel.

That's it. I'm just giving you four points to hold onto when you feel like you're fighting yourself to keep calm. Anxiety is no fun, I know it, you know it - but you can manage it. And you will. 


I wrote a post several years ago about ways to protect yourself in the current political climate. Some of the advice I gave there is repeated here. Some is a bit different, so if you need extra reinforcement, go read that post, as well (just click the bolded title^). 

And remember, you're not alone in this. You are a part of a community of people who are feeling similar things. We're all confused. We're all stressed. And we're all just doing our best. 

So remind yourself of what you would tell your friends - you've got this. Because you do. I do, too. Heck, we all do. Each one of us. We just need to try our best and take things one day at a time. Avoid the panic as best you can. 

And if you need help when you're trying to do so? Let me know. I am right here. I'll do whatever I can to help. 

* Disclaimer: Although I am a licensed therapist none of this information is to be considered a replacement for therapy. If you are experiencing severe anxiety and unable to function or if you are finding that panic is your every day at this time? Please contact your mental health provider for support. Please let me know if you do not have one and need one. I will help you find one - one who takes your insurance - one who does teletherapy - one who does whatever it is you need them to do. I'll help. Please, let yourself get the support you need. We're here and we've got you. *


  1. Good advice, I am going to take a break from all the news flashes and to try and read something light

  2. Great advice, Andrea! We all need to take care of our mental health during this crisis. Going out for a hike into the great outdoors is very stress relieving for me.

  3. Perfect advice!

    Instagram is my favorite SM site.



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