Coronavirus and anxiety – the supervillain duo of the century

By Umar Bashir

Coronavirus has caused a great deal of anxiety, but anxiety could cause a great deal more coronavirus…

Anxiety can trigger our fight-or-flight response, which can weaken our immune system, leaving us more vulnerable to infections – just what coronavirus wants!

Anxiety can also make us touch our face more often. Touching our face makes it much easier for viruses to enter our body, infect us and turn us into a host to further spread disease – just what coronavirus wants!

Anxiety can also drive people to panic-buy, and thus spend more time around other people – just what coronavirus wants!

Anxiety also shares some symptoms with coronavirus: feeling hot and feeling short of breath. People could easily mistake their anxiety about coronavirus for actual coronavirus and rush off to hospital, where they will spend even more time around other people, some of whom may actually have coronavirus – just what coronavirus wants!

(Coronavirus also shares some symptoms with hay fever, and we are now in hay fever season. Let’s not add a sidekick to the supervillain duo, please.)

This is all very scary, but it also gives us a clear line of attack: while our doctors and nurses are busy fighting coronavirus on one front, we can fight anxiety on the other…

The first lines of defence against anxiety are routine and exercise, but thanks to coronavirus our routines have been thrown up the air and all the gyms are closed – honestly, it’s like they had this planned all along.

But hope isn’t lost. We just have to take things back to basics. For routine, simply get up at the same time each morning and have breakfast – that can be the foundation upon which you build the rest of your day. For exercise, if nothing else, just go for a walk around the block, fast enough to get your heartrate up; and, in the spirit of routine, do it at the same time each day.

With these two things in place, we can then mount an effective resistance against anxiety: we can eat healthily and at regular times, we can stay hydrated, we can get plenty of sleep at night and plenty of sunshine during the day, we can do yoga and breathing exercises, we can meditate, we can talk to people, we can keep a diary – anxiety won’t stand a chance. And, without anxiety, coronavirus will have lost its greatest ally.

Don’t get me wrong, some anxiety is a good thing; it will keep us on our toes during this pandemic. But too much anxiety could make the situation much worse. So, do your bit: help fight coronavirus by managing and moderating your anxiety.