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How to use information therapy to manage COVID-19 anxiety and nurture your well-being

Blog Post created by communitymanager on May 5, 2020
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The constant stream of news surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak is causing heightened stress and anxiety for many. This isn’t an unusual reaction. It’s actually part of a natural built-in survival mechanism known as the “fight or flight” or stress response. Humans are wired to scan their environment for potential threats. When people perceive a dangerous situation, their bodies react in ways that are designed to help them survive imminent danger.1  

While the stress response is very effective for helping us survive an immediate threat – reacting quickly to avoid a collision when someone cuts your car off on a highway, for example – it can be counterproductive when facing uncertainty in an ongoing situation.

 

During this challenging time, it’s important to take appropriate action to protect your health. It’s just as important to manage stress and anxiety so you can avoid causing harm to your physical and mental health. Information therapy is a technique that can help you do both.  

 

What is information therapy?

Information therapy is formally defined as, “supplying patients with health information, enabling them to make informed decisions about their health and care,” and to participate in their own well-being.2  

Information therapy can help you feel a sense of control in an unpredictable health situation. In the case of COVID-19, access to reliable information is critical to ensuring that you know what to do to prevent spreading the infection.

The key is to stick to accurate, useful information from reliable sources while avoiding media reports that are alarmist and contain misinformation. Some reputable, up-to-date websites you can go to for factual information about the coronavirus include:

 

·       World Health Organization

·       The Centers for Disease Control

·       National Foundation for Infectious Diseases

·       Harvard Medical School

How to tell if you’re on information overload

As communities deal with the coronavirus pandemic, they are bombarded with breaking news reports, emails, social media posts and news articles about the crisis. Immersing yourself in the constant news cycle can create intense feelings of dread and even panic. In fact, studies show that people who are repeatedly exposed to negative, sensationalist news stories experience acute stress, symptoms similar to post-traumatic stress disorder and other long-term consequences to their well-being.3  

 

A constant diet of bad news can lead to overreactive decision making, like hoarding food, toilet paper and protective masks. It can also lead to excessive worry, debilitating anxiety and physical symptoms.3

While everyone reacts differently to stressful situations, there are some signs that they are struggling with a high level of stress and anxiety.4

 

  • Constant fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
  • Irritability
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Worsening of mental health conditions
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs

 

Practical ways to manage anxiety and nurture your well-being

Controlling your reaction to information during a pandemic is no easy feat, especially since there is a heightened level of anxiety and concern throughout our communities. However, there are practical steps you can take to help reduce stress and take care of your well-being during this difficult time.5  

  • Stick to only certain credible websites for information
  • Limit the amount of time you spend consuming COVID-19 coverage each day
  • Make a concrete plan about how to get through the next weeks and months that focuses on things you can control
  • Stock up on a reasonable amount of food and medical supplies and avoid hoarding
  • Stay in touch with family and friends by phone, video or social media
  • Carve out time every day to do something around the house you enjoy
  • Prioritize sleep, a healthy diet and exercise
  • Take breaks from electronic devices and play board games or cards or work on a creative project with your household members

 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed and anxious because of the coronavirus outbreak, the Go365 program has ways to support you while earning Points. You can keep a mindfulness log for 10 Points per week or download one of our compatible apps like Unwinding Anxiety or Stop, Breathe & Think to learn new coping skills or find peace in your day. Engage your mind and body for your well-being while getting rewarded.

 

Sources

1 “What Happens to Your Body During the Fight or Flight Response?” Cleveland Clinic (December 2019), accessed XX/XX/XXXX. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-happens-to-your-body-during-the-fight-or-flight-response/

2 D.J. Mitchell, “Toward a definition of Information Therapy,” Proceedings. Symposium on Computer Applications in Medical Care (1994), accessed XX/XX/XXXX. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2247874/

3 Jill Suttie, “How to Be Intentional About Consuming Coronavirus News,” Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkley (2020), accessed XX/XX/XXXX. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_to_be_intentional_about_consuming_coronavirus_news

4 “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Stress and Coping,” CDC (2020) accessed XX/XX/XXXX. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fprepare%2Fmanaging-stress-anxiety.html

5 Yasmin Anwar, “When Coronavirus Anxiety Is Useful and When It Isn’t,” (2020), accessed XX/XX/XXXX. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/when_coronavirus_anxiety_is_useful_and_when_it_isnt?utm_source=Greater+Good+Science+Center&utm_campaign=3283ee616b-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_GG_Newsletter_April_7_2020&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_5ae73e326e-3283ee616b-74267559


Go365 is not an insurance product and is not available with all Humana health plans. This is a general description of services which are subject to change. Please refer to Customer Support for more information.

This material is provided for informational use only and should not be construed as medical, legal, financial, or other professional advice or used in place of consulting a licensed professional. You should consult with an applicable licensed professional to determine what is right for you.

From time to time, Go365 may make available items and services from third-party vendors. While some services are provided at no additional cost to you, if you choose to use certain items and services, you may incur additional fees that are not covered by your wellness program. Similar items or services may be available at no or reduced cost under Go365, or your health coverage, if available. You should consult your Go365 program or health coverage documents for more information.  Third-party vendors may provide compensation to Humana. Humana does not endorse the items or services provided by third-party vendors.

 

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