Impact of COVID-19

Coping with Uncertainty During a Pandemic

BY LYNN CHIANG

12 May 2020  |   5 min read

From cancelling travel plans to daily temperature taking to keeping a safe distance from others, there have been sweeping changes in nearly every aspect of our daily lives. It can be an unnerving time as we spend hours cooped up at home worrying about an uncertain future and the well-being of our family and friends.

It is normal to feel afraid and anxious in the face of such an unprecedented crisis. However, there are things you can do to manage your negative emotions.

Besides practicing good hygiene, what else can we do to calm our anxieties?

1. Limit your exposure to negative news

While it is good to keep updated on latest developments, repeatedly tuning in to news about the pandemic and its severe impact globally may heighten your anxiety. It is important to only consume what you can handle.

If you are already aware of the basic information, it may be good to moderate your consumption of news during this period. You can still check reliable and official sources to keep yourself informed but limit that to only once a day or to specific times of the day. If you feel better avoiding media completely, ask someone you trust to inform you of important developments.

2. Revisit that long forgotten project or hobby

In this period when you are home-bound and have more time on your hands, it is a good opportunity to start on activities you have been putting off. Be it starting on that book you have been wanting to read, trying out a particular cooking recipe you found online, or attempting to make your own Dalgona coffee. Enagaging in an activity forces you to focus on the present moment and this in turn helps distract you from over-thinking or feelings of being overwhelmed. Spending time on your favourite activity or picking up a new skill can be a simple way to keep your spirits high.

Throwing yourself into your hobbies can be good way to manage stress

3. Stay connected

Though some of us may be physically isolated, we do not need to feel that we are alone. Maintaining a strong social connection, either through social media, texting or calls, is as important as maintaining a healthy diet and sleep pattern. Staying in contact with loved ones not only helps you to alleviate boredom but also enables you to feel supported and surrounded by positivity. In addition, it helps to have an open conversation about your fears with someone you trust. The virus may affect people in various ways – from fear of infection to worries of financial instability. Being able to openly talk about your emotions and worries often helps you to see things in a new and more positive light. This will better enable you to manage your anxiety and not feel overwhelmed.

In circumstances where seeking support from your social network is not possible or helpful, do seek support from community resources. Several mental health agencies offer hotlines or online counselling services that are easily accessible from home.

In times like this, being a positive, uplifting influence not only helps others but benefits us too.

4. Be kind

Helping others can provide a sense of control and empowerment. Showing empathy and engaging in helpful activities, be it donating, volunteering, or listening to a friend in need, can increase your feelings of personal fulfilment and contentment. In times like this, being a positive, uplifting influence not only helps others but benefits us too.

The virus is contagious, but so are emotions.

The crisis may continue but keep reminding yourself that it is ok to feel drained and overwhelmed. The important thing is to be self-aware and mindful of how you are feeling and to take steps to care for your well-being. Focus less on the negative news and more on staying connected, staying engaged in hobbies and projects, and being kind to others. And of course, stay safe and healthy through practicing good hygiene and safe distancing.

Though the future may seem uncertain now, this too shall pass. We are all in this together.

The contributor is an Executive at the Samaritans of Singapore (SOS).