Local therapist offers tips to stay calm as anxiety builds around coronavirus

Updated: Mar. 13, 2020 at 7:08 PM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - With a national emergency declared and major events being canceled due to the coronavirus, it’s easy for many people to start feeling anxious.

Sandra Quast, licensed professional therapist at Coastal Haven Counseling, said it’s not uncommon for people to have anxiety over things they feel like they can’t control or the unknown.

She said because of those factors she’s not surprised why some might be having anxious feelings about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Quast said to combat these feelings, it’s important to be informed enough to understand your individual risk, which for many people may be low. But she said for someone who might have extreme anxious thoughts, there’s a difference between being informed and overdoing it.

“You don’t need to inundate yourself. You know some people, they have to see everything. You have to see the TV news and they go to every station. And they feel like they need to be in the know, but they’re flooding themselves with information and they’re flooding themselves so much... how are they feeling? That’s what they need to think. Is this making them panic," Quast said.

She also said in situations like this, people tend to overthink which can influence decision making, like panic buying, which is something that people typically wouldn’t do under regular circumstances. She said someone panic buying supplies might make them feel like they’re in control when otherwise they don’t know what else to do.

“When you start to overthink, you can write down your thoughts, and think, ‘Is this realistic? Am I being realistic? Or am I overthinking things?’ Put the ‘but’ at the end of the sentence. ‘I might get this but, I might not. I might get this but, I don’t have a compromised immune system’ if that’s the case," she added.

Quast said if your risk is low, and you continuously wash your hands, deep breathing and practicing mindfulness can help combat anxiety.

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