How to stay calm during the corona virus pandemic
The constant alerts and announcements about Coronavirus can be anxiety-inducing and leave you with a lot of questions — should I really be scared of the virus? What should I do to prepare? How will this affect me, my family and my income? There are several approaches you can take to cope.
How Your Brain Views the Coronavirus
Here are some interesting facts:
The common flu is estimated to have affected over 32 million people in the U.S. alone since October 2019,
The number people being tested positive with the Corona virus are no more than 387,000 cases worldwide the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering confirmed on March 24.
From what we know so far, the most common symptoms of Coronavirus are fever, cough, and shortness of breath in less severe cases. It’s important to note that these can also be symptoms of the flu or the common cold, and if you haven’t been around anyone who’s traveled to Asia, Iran, or Italy or who has already tested positive for Coronavirus, then your chances for having the virus are very small. So far a total of 584 people in Scotland have tested positive for coroanvirus in Scotland - with 16 deaths.
So, why is your brain fixating on the dangers of the Coronavirus when the regular flu season has affected so many more people? Let me explain the brain to you a bit. As helpful as your mid-brain’s “fight or flight” response can be to protect you from potentially dangerous situations, it can also stir up feelings of anxiety. These then translate into anxious thoughts during events such as the global spread of the Coronavirus. The flu is familiar; we all learn about it early on in life so we know what it is and how to handle it as adults. New viruses like COVID-19 can be a little scarier than an existing virus, and all of that uncertainty can make it easy for your brain to latch onto anxious thoughts and spiral. Also in this day and age where we are exposed to a flood of contradictory information, sensationalism and plain mis-information our natural reaction is to be afraid.
Here are some suggestions of what you can do to stay calmer:
1) Moderate your media coverage of the virus.
Get familiar with the facts by using reliable sources like the government website or the NHS.
Getting information and updates about the Coronavirus is important, but tuning into sensationalized media coverage that’s meant to induce anxiety and panic can be counterproductive to maintaining your personal or professional environments. Setting personal boundaries and limiting your media updates to fact-based, frequently updated government websites can help you stay informed without triggering anxiety or worry.
2) Understand how the brain works in these types of situations.
While it’s good to have awareness of what’s going on, taking a moment to be present with your anxious thoughts and feelings can help you discover whether your thoughts are fact-based or whether you are experiencing a stress response to the uncertainty of the situation. Understanding the difference between the two can help you maintain your inner peace as more information is gathered.
3) Spend more time practicing mindfulness, loving kindness and compassion
Mindfulness can help you navigate the overwhelming amount of information about the current Coronavirus situation. Since we are all now asked to stay at home we have a great opportunity to learn to be mindful. In particular it is helpful to work with our feelings during this period. It is not just anxiety that we experiencing at present. We will have feelings of grief, anger, confusion, depression and many others. Now is the time to turn towards all of these emotions and accept them as they arise.
If you have a mindfulness practice already now is the to deepen it. If you haven't learned how to be mindful, now is the time to have a look at this practice. I will run a free meeting for peopel interested in strengthening their mindfulness and resilience on Sunday 29 March
Go here for more information.
Do you need counselling?
Due to the restrictions imposed on everybody at present I am not able to offer any in-person support. However, I am very happy to offer you online sessions until such times when we are safe to meet face-to-face again.
Does this sound familiar to you?
If any or all of these symptoms apply to you, you might benefit from counselling, trauma therapy or learning how to practice mindfulness. Get in touch , if you live in Stirling or Stirlingshire. My contact details are at the top of every page. You can also go here, to find out more about what you can do to alleviate anxiety and depression. Or go here to find out when I run my next mindfulness course.
If you are not sure yet, have a look at who I am and what I do. You can also find out more about whether you are affected by trauma by looking at this page here.
You might have already made up your mind that you want to take this further. If this is so and you want to find out about the length of my sessions and other practical questions, please go here.
My name is Britta Schuessler and I have been practising as a counsellor since 2003. I am committed to providing counselling, coaching and trauma therapy in a safe, confidential and non-judgemental environment. I work with individuals on an open-ended basis or for an agreed time-period, with the aim of enabling you to enhance your life and to live it more fully.
Have a look at my What do I offer? page to learn more. To the right you can see what my room at the Stirling Business Centre looks like.
I have several years of experience running group work on issues like:
Here is what clients have said about me (printed with their permission):
There is no doubt that examining and working with the inner world can be very challenging, even frightening, but Britta has a wealth of experience to help you to do that safely and at your own pace. Her genuine love, care and investment in my progress, along with her wicked sense of humour, are what made my growth possible. Today I cope well with uncomfortable emotions, can more easily set boundaries and have developed a self-care habit, all of which seemed impossible twelve months ago. I unreservedly recommend Britta for anyone caught in that unhealthy spiral. Her work truly is transformative. (Beverley Hooper, September 19)
I worked with Britta for 18+ months and the progress I made was brilliant and this is mainly based on how good Britta is. Britta is very approachable and I found her very comfortable to be around which helped me relax and open up about things. Britta is also very down to earth and has a great outlook on life and the persona can rub off on you during sessions. Also very adaptable and will try very hard to meet your needs. I am having a break from my sessions to enjoy the progress I have made but I will be back in the future to carry on where we have left off. Many many thanks to Britta). (Allan Mill, August 19)
I used Britta's services after a period of loss - in fact, several losses had come one after another. I broke down at work one day, and during those moments I gave voice to the loss that I felt. It's like something inside me was experiencing things, but not getting to comment on it. I realised my current approach to life was not giving this inside world a voice, and if I didn't find a way to give it room, I would no doubt break down again, when next under pressure. This had to change. I have a scientific background, and a logical approach to things. Any therapy I chose would have to acknowledge the science of the human body, particularly the brain. It would also have to make sense to me, even if it taught me new things. Britta combines knowledge of the brain and body with methods to allow the emotional side of the brain to give voice to what it knows. The brain knowledge was familiar to me. However, the methods to manage the emotional side of experiences were new. I found that when I followed Britta's leading, at first I would not understand how a method worked, but once I experienced it I could see it worked. Also, Britta has no qualms about discussing and explaining any of her methods. I found the practice and the subsequent explanations very helpful. I highly recommend Britta to anyone experiencing strong emotional reactions to current events or to memories of past events. Britta gave me the space to voice what needed to be voiced. Now it's been heard it can rest its case. There's a new sense of quiet about some events that had been with me for years. Britta also gave me methods I can use ongoing. They proved very practical as the losses continued to happen throughout my time with Britta. I know I'm in a much stronger place than I would have been otherwise. Britta also opened up to me the practice of mindfulness. Loving books, I'd read about it, and assumed that's all there was to know. Britta demonstrated it to me. I started to see real changes to the way I reacted to daily living. I realised by reading about mindfulness I didn't know anything about it. Her mindfulness practice is a tonic against stress and anxiety. Have no doubts, she holds real keys to peace.
(Lesley Bullbeck, May 18)
When I started to work with Britta, my life was mostly determined by anxiety caused by unprocessed trauma. I was desperate and felt like I am not living my life anymore. Britta helped me to find back to my myself without being afraid of it anymore. She helped me to understand the pattern of my motivation and we uncovered the world inside of me, with all the different parts that define a person and especially those, that were ignored and caused over time this unbalance I found myself in. What I most liked about working with Britta is that she finds the EXACTLY right way to approach you, no matter what. She knows so many different techniques that I always felt comfortable! (Kristina U., July 2017)
Britta has literally turned my life around. I had been struggling with stress and anxiety for such a long time that I was sceptical that anything or anyone could help me.
It took time and courage for me to make that step and I only wish that I had did so sooner because I feel like the old me again after only a few months worth of sessions.
Britta has provided me with tools and techniques that'll I'll be able to use for the rest of my life to keep my stress and anxiety at bay.
I won't hesitate to use Britta again in the future.(Robert, Falkirk, May 2017)
I worked with Britta for a few months during a time of high anxiety and in order to help process some previous traumas. Her calm, caring and professional manner enabled me to adopt a calmer and more pragmatic approach to work and life. I have been able to step off the emotional rollercoaster I was on and am now much happier and more confident. I saw my time with Britta as an investment in myself and my future and would not hesitate to return to her in the future or to recommend her to others. (Gillian Macadam, Alloa, November 2016)
Britta has helped me to come to terms with the trauma and stress of losing a loved one. I feel I am now much stronger and more able to cope with life's challenges thanks to Britta. I found her approach to be empathetic, non-judgemental, supportive and encouraging. She employed a range of techniques and methods to deal with the different problems I am facing and has given me the necessary tools to help me to continue to improve in the future. (Stuart Gibson, Tillicoultry, October 2016)
"Britta is a wonderful (wise!) woman who helped me throughout a difficult period of anxiety and relationship issues. She puts people at ease, she is a great listener, and the best thing for me is her ability to steer conversations and pick up on what's important to help people. She is not fanatical about any particular approach - we tried different therapies and sometimes I even just went in and talked. Her experience and calm nature make her an ideal counsellor and I would heartily recommend her to anyone. " (Steven, Stirling May 2016)
"I began to work with Britta Schuessler last summer when I was suffering from depression and anxiety. We decided that my recurrent low mood came from old trauma and not just from a recent bereavement. Britta offered me the opportunity to use her somatic techniques for clearing trauma and I found this to be most effective.The method is non intrusive and feels very safe as it is based on breathing and listening to the body rather than on conversation. The body goes at its own pace and is not threatened. I found the process to be deeply relaxing as well as illuminating. Over a surprisingly short period of time first my depression lifted and then my anxiety cleared. I can highly recommend Britta Schuessler as a therapist. " (Jenny, Glasgow February 2016)
"Britta was always the professional , great to work with, made me feel so relaxed, easy to communicate with. Britta is a great listener and really understood me. I would definitely recommend Britta in a heartbeat." (Debbie Young, Glasgow , September 2013)