Combatting Fear in a Time of Crisis

by Dr. Lorin Bradbury

Question: The last week turned into a week of stress and anxiety over the spread of the coronavirus? And it just struck me that what I am feeling is not necessarily the fear of catching anything, but anxiety associated with doing the right thing, fearing others will think I am a wack-job because of steps I am taking to protect myself and my family, worrying about what I am going to do with my children over the next couple of weeks, and fearing I won’t have a job when this is over? Please help!

Answer: Dealing with this current crisis is similar to dealing with any other crisis.

1. Determine what you can control and what you need to control. The serenity prayer comes in handy at times like this. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” Trying to control that which you have no control over will always lead to anxiety. Then sort out what you need to control from among those things you can control and focus on what you need to control.

2. Decide what you need to do to feel safe. Some may feel safe in larger crowds than others. Some may need to take more extreme steps than others to feel safe. It’s not a matter of “I’m right and they are wrong.” It’s more a matter of “I feel safer taking these steps, even if no one else does.”

3. Limit the amount of media you consume. Obtain information from reliable sites and don’t feed on fear-inducing sites, listen continually to the news. Take a break and do some constructive activities. Keep living. Enjoy living.

4. Stay up to date in the present. If you allow your mind to run wild, you will be able to come up with worst-case scenarios that are likely to never come to pass. How many cases of confirmed coronavirus are there in your community? If there are some, what is your risk of catching the virus? What steps can you do to reduce your chances of catching it? Stay up to date with information from reputable sources but live in the present. Normalize as much as possible.

5. Stay connected with friends and family. Find support among your friends and family. Don’t over-isolate. This can lead to depression. Ask family members to challenge your fears if they are irrational.

I trust this will be of some help to you. Start with the serenity prayer and work from there.

Lorin L. Bradbury, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Bethel. For appointments, he can be reached at 543-3266. If you have questions that you would like Dr. Bradbury to answer in the Delta Discovery, please send them to The Delta Discovery, P.O. Box 1028, Bethel, AK 99559, or e-mail them to [email protected].

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