Coronavirus in UAE: Tips on how to deal with the pandemic panic
Dubai - Plan ahead to feel more in control, stay well-stocked and have contingency plans which would instill a sense of relief.
By Nandini Sircar
Published: Mon 16 Mar 2020, 5:00 PM
Last updated: Tue 17 Mar 2020, 8:57 AM
From fires and hurricanes to disasters and diseases hitting the world one after the other, it's natural for people to worry about the implications of their surrounding situations.
As more confirmed cases of Covid-19 are announced throughout the world, mounting worries can disrupt people's lives, if not held in check.
Amid all this uncertainty medical experts and doctors are often bombarded with questions like "Am I at risk?". Health counsellors say "it's a kind of shared stress" and there are measures that one can take to push back the communal anxiety.
Fears over the pandemic can be managed and psychologist and human behaviour experts are calling on people to take practical steps to lessen risk of catching the new coronavirus.
Take practical steps to minimise risk
"The more you stress, the more vulnerable you can become to viruses, because stress can dampen your immune response", says Dr Mohammed Yousaf, Psychiatrist, Aster Clinic, Al Mutheena.
Plan ahead to feel more in control, stay well-stocked and have contingency plans which would instill a sense of relief. "There is no need for anybody to panic, it is important for people to be in the know, but you don't need to obsess over things. Maintain good hygiene, take steps to protect yourself. Listen to music and watch television to divert your mind," said Dr Yousaf.
"I have been administering anti-anxiety drugs to few patients who complained of sleeplessness and inability to focus on work due to surging anxiety levels. In such situations, seek medical help to calm withered nerves," he added.
Stick to news sources with credible medical information
The constant checking of smartphones - with the bombardment of news and social media - can amp up our anxiety and fears. Medical practitioners advise sticking with sources of credible medical information, and avoiding misinformation about the virus and the illness it causes.
Consequently, unplugging from the news for a bit, should also be on the agenda. Even using meditation and yoga apps like Headspace or Calm could help let go of anticipatory anxiety. "During a pandemic break out heightened media attention is natural, so limit listening to the media because information can be overwhelming and that can obsesses people. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories. Hearing about these things repeatedly can be upsetting", said Dr Pavithra Reddy, internal medicine specialist at Prime Medical Centre, Motor City.
Increased focus on hygiene and quality family time
Stressing on self and home-hygiene, avoiding unnecessary travel and avoiding group gatherings could instead be the way forward to combat the spread of this virus. "With schools being shut and more people working from home, use this period effectively to interact with your family. Spend quality time with them instead of getting anxious", adds Dr Reddy
Another step forward could be connecting with friends and loved ones through video chats, phone calls, texting, and email. "These efforts help feel the strength of one's connections to their friends and loved ones even though one may not be with them in person. So we essentially need to focus on what tends to work for us to ease anxiety", says Dr Laila Ali, specialist psychiatrist at the Medcare Hospital Sharjah.
Preparedness and assuring children
"Remember, you're fully prepared to help yourself. You can take steps to calm and steady yourself through best and healthy practices," said. Dr Ali
Deliberating on steps to reassure one's family, especially children and teens who react on what they see from the adults around them, Dr Manar Nasar, General Practitioner at Al Ain said: "Create a positive environment at home, encourage your children to wash and sanitise their hands regularly, eat healthy foods rich in Vitamin C that can boost immunity, exercise regularly as a family and get plenty of sleep."
"People who are wrestling with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders are feeling an even heavier burden in these stress-producing times", adds Dr Nasar.
Experts advise it is time to create a menu of personal self-care activities with frequent hand washing or using sanitisers containing at least 60 per cent alcohol. Even talking to people while maintaining a safe distance of six feet, is said to be another imperative.
For now, skip the hand shake and abandon the hi-fi and switch to the Indian Namaste or the elbow bump.