As the state comes to grips with the new normal, here are tips for handling anxiety caused by COVID-19


HONOLULU(KHON2)–The novel coronavirus has the state and the nation on high alert.

Fear, worry, anxiety are emotions many say they’ve been feeling over the pandemic.

People are rushing to get supplies, travel advisories are impacting the economy and jobs, and each day the news reports more new cases of the virus.

Clinical psychologist Doug Schwartzsmith said the fear and anxiety people are feeling lights up the nervous system so it’s important that people manage the roller coaster of emotions in healthy ways.

He said the best and easiest thing to do is breathe.

“Take a deep breath. That reduces the fight or flight mechanism that we all have. If nothing else, we know that it’s there, that’s good news. I like to have that in place. It’s just that in times like this it can have a life of its own and get triggered unnecessarily,” Schwartzsmith explained.

Being concerned is normal given the circumstances. But Schwartzsmith said those negative emotions can run on a loop, overwhelming us.

“Worry begets worry, and people tend to ping off of each other.”

He said try to be aware of how your feelings may be impacting others and take a step back.

Do what you can to offer one another support without making others more anxious.

Don’t believe everything you read on social media.

“Look for reliable sources of information. Take that, realize that we are where we are. We can’t tell the future. We have so many things on our side and we’ve learned from a lot of past calamities.”

Schwartzsmith’s advice, keep your sense of humor and try to do things you enjoy, while practicing social distancing.

And if things seem like they’re out of control Schwartzsmith said focus on something small.

“Control what you can control. Wash your hands for example. Guard your sneeze. We should be doing that anyway so its not a big difference…hoarding toilet paper is not the way to go.”

Clinical Psychologist Marvin Acklin said since most people are staying home, practicing social distancing, it’s important to manage boredom.

Acklin suggested bringing out the board games. Take up an indoor hobby. Spend time with immediate family, as long as they’re not sick. He says supporting one another is key.

Schwartzsmith said the most important thing to do is take the situation into perspective. Be kind to one another and take time to appreciate the small things that we often take for granted.

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