In the outbreak of COVID-19, the virus is the only thing you hear about. When going to work (if you still have work right now), all your coworkers are talking about it. All your friends and family are talking about it. The virus is all over every tv, news, and radio station. If you go online, the virus has infiltrated your news feed. Every other post on your feed is about the virus.
Even if you try to avoid the virus, you cannot escape hearing about it. It is on all of our minds, all of the time. However, the frequency in which we are talking about the virus is actually detrimental to our mental and physical health. This blog post will go over why talking about the virus is bad for our minds and bodies.
According to Psychology Today, rumination is “repetitively going over a thought or problem without completion.” People who suffer from depression and anxiety tend to let their thoughts take over and spin in their minds like a broken record that never ceases. Even people who don’t suffer from these mental illnesses tend to ruminate – they overthink and obsess about situations, relationships, life events, and more.
What are the Harms of Rumination?
Rumination leads to increased levels of stress, which can actually lower the functionality of your immune system, and even lead to other side effects, such as heart disease, ulcers, high blood pressure, and digestive issues. Additionally, rumination exacerbates existing mental health issues, and can also lower the mental health of those who don’t already suffer from a mental illness. Likewise, the more you partake in rumination, the higher your risk is of developing anxiety, depression, or other mental illnesses. The endless thoughts can also cause insomnia (we need a proper amount of sleep each night to stay healthy and fight off illness!).
In order to cope with these repetitive, stressful thoughts, many people turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms. In order to cope with stress and drown out these thoughts, some people resort to binge-eating, binge-drinking, self-harm, and more, which all lower the overall health of the mind and body.
According to Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor of psychology at the University of California – Riverside, when you ruminate about negative situations, your brain brings up more and more negative thoughts and memories, which you use to interpret current events. This leads to a “distorted, pessimistic perspective on your life,” even when things really aren’t that bad. Furthermore, rumination drains your mental energy, which interferes with your brain’s ability to solve problems.
Ruminating on the Corona Virus
With our constant worry about the virus, we are ruminating on something that is pretty much beyond our control. The most we can do is wash our hands, stay indoors as much as possible, and be conscientious of others so that we do not spread any disease. Worrying excessively about this virus is causing harm to ourselves. And posting incessantly about the virus online is harming people who follow us. We need to try to distance ourselves from talk about the virus as much as possible in order to preserve our mental and physical health – which helps us fight off the virus if we do contract it.
What to Do About Social Media
It is nearly impossible to go very long without hearing about the virus, no matter where you are. While you may not be able to avoid the topic at work, or when talking with friends or family, you can do your best to refrain from using social media for most of the day. Many of us are bored at home and have a lot of time to browse the internet in our free time. However, it is detrimental to our mental health.
1. After you read about important information or updates about the virus, try unplugging for the rest of the day so you are not being constantly bombarded with fear or anxiety about the virus.
2. Try not to post about it too much. People mean well and are trying to bring awareness or comedic relief to the situation. However, posting about the virus 24/7 is not healthy to you or your followers. Your ten posts a day are being cluttered with everyone else spamming about the virus, too.
3. Post about something else. Right now, our daily lives have been disrupted, which causes lots of stress and anxiety. Instead of only posting about the virus, post about some tv shows or movies you’ve seen recently, something good that happened to you this week, or anything else. This helps you and people who follow you to retain some sense of normalcy in these chaotic times.
4. Be conscientious about your followers. For people with depression or anxiety, hearing about so tension and talk about death may increase suicidal thoughts or anxious feelings. People with OCD may be experiencing increases in obsessive-compulsive thoughts and behaviors, while those with PTSD may be having a harder time because being sick may feel like a loss of control.
What to do Instead of Worry about the Virus
1. Engage in activities that foster positive thoughts: This can range from exercising to prayer or meditation to making art.
2. Write About It: Try starting a daily journal in which you dump your negative thoughts and worries on the page, and try to forget about them once you close the book.
3. Stay Active: While we can’t really take a walk in nature right now, there are other ways to keep your body active and take your mind off the situation. Google at-home exercises that you can do in your basement, garage, or living room.
4. Problem-Solve: Instead of worry incessantly about catching the virus, come up with a plan on what to do in case you get sick. Ask your doctor or employer to give you resources on what to do if you think you get the corona virus. Brainstorm solutions with your family in case one of you gets sick. What accommodations will you need to make to help everyone out? Having a game plan can make things feel a lot less scary.
5. Distract Yourself: Now is the time to regain interest in your hobbies! Create art, read, write, build puzzles, play board games with your children, learn another language, etc. There are tons of tutorials on YouTube – try learning something new!