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Coping with Coronavirus anxiety

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Currently, Australia is one of the countries least directly affected by the coronavirus. Even so it’s normal to feel anxious, particularly when the media is saturated with scare stories, because scary sells better than anything else. But this is relatively unfamiliar territory for us, and scientists are still assessing and revising the implications coronavirus for world health.  
For healthy people, without compromised immune systems the risk of contracting and getting seriously ill from coronavirus is very low. According to current Australian government data, the death rate from coronavirus outside China is around 1.5%. *
Indeed, in Australia, it’s anticipated to be even lower than this.

Take the precautions you’d take for any virus


Like the flu, coronavirus is spread through everyday contact. As with all colds and flu like illnesses, avoid close contact with a person who isn’t well. While they most likely don’t have coronavirus, this helps reduce unnecessary worry for you and your family.
• Wash your hands frequently.  If you don’t have hand sanitiser, don’t worry. The World Health Organisation says that washing your hands thoroughly and regularly is the key. Use warm to hot water, soap your hands for 20 seconds before rinsing.
• Avoid touching your eyes or nose as this is an easy way for the virus to transfer. 
• At work, make sure you disinfect door handles and communally touched objects. On public transport you’ll be touching areas used by thousands of people, so the no touching eyes, nose or face rule is very important. As soon as you’re off the train, wash those hands.  
• Keeping your immune system healthy can help too. Take regular walks or run outside. Taking Vitamin C is no guarantee, but many scientists say it can help bolster your system and unlike many supplements, it can’t hurt.
• Wipe down shopping trolley handles. Most supermarkets provide these now.
• Touch road-crossing buttons, ATM buttons and lift buttons with your knuckle rather than fingertips.  Then wash your hands regularly anyway.
• At the gym, take a towel and use the spray that’s usually supplied to clean equipment before you use it as well as after. And, yep, wash those hands afterwards. 


Dealing with anxiety and worry


• It’s normal to fear the unknown. Find a way to manage those feelings. Talk to a friend. Take your mind off things by watching a funny movie, putting on some music you love, take a walk in nature, or bake.  In short, prioritise doing what you know builds your mental fitness or things you love to do.
• The media is designed to make you think you need to worry about this all the time. You have a choice to control how much of it you absorb. If social media or TV news stresses you, then take yourself away from it. 
• Practice mediation or mindfulness, whatever helps you refocus your mind on things that matter and calm intrusive and unhelpful thoughts.  Do whatever works for you.
• Remember, the only information that counts comes from reliable resources. Australian Government websites or the World Health Organisation website are good places to get the facts from scientists and people who understand public health.  
• If you find yourself overwhelmed, uncharacteristically anxious or fearful, reach out for help from your social networks, or even consider accessing support from professionals through your employee assistance program or health professional.
• Finally, remember, this time will pass.  Pandemics can be scary, but all of them pass and life will return to normal.


* www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert
 
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