The COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak has forced us all to adjust our lifestyle.
Our usual routine of going to work, attending social gatherings and enjoying time out of the house is put on halt. The replacement is understandable fear and anxiousness about interacting with strangers, friends and even family.
These worries add to the mental struggles people with mesothelioma already face.
If you have mesothelioma, we understand the coronavirus pandemic is likely causing more anxiety and stress than usual. You were already facing a lot as you dealt with the emotional and physical toll of this aggressive cancer.
As has been reported, the coronavirus is a respiratory illness. It attaches to and attacks the lungs, causing breathing issues, among other symptoms.
Mesothelioma often develops near the lungs and spreads to this organ. People with this cancer are, therefore, at severe risk of developing a harsh case of coronavirus. Knowing that can lead to enormous concern and grief.
These mental reactions are understandable, but we can help you improve your mental health during your isolation. These five coping mechanisms can decrease your anxiety and stress.
Use the 5-4-3-2-1 Coping Technique
The 5-4-3-2-1 coping technique will help you through an anxiety attack. The experts at the University of Rochester Medical Center explained how to utilize this method.
“Before starting this exercise, pay attention to your breathing,” wrote Sara Smith, a social worker at the hospital. “Slow, deep, long breaths can help you maintain a sense of calm or help you return to a calmer state.”
Once you have control of your breathing, go through five steps:
- Acknowledge five (5) items in your surroundings. It could be any object, big or small.
- Touch four (4) things in your presence. It could be your skin, a pillow, a couch cushion or the TV remote.
- Acknowledge three (3) sounds outside of your body. Birds chirping and the clock ticking are two examples. Your internal thoughts do not count.
- Focus on two (2) smells. You could smell food from your kitchen or the wood of your table.
- Acknowledge one (1) thing you can taste. Pay attention to whatever you can taste right now. It could be a snack you recently ate or the taste of your saliva.
Following this coping strategy will help take your mind off of whatever troubles you face.
Communicate Virtually With Friends and Family
Thanks to the internet, you don’t need to be in the same room as your loved ones to be with them. Virtual communications tools — like Skype and Google Hangouts — allow you to connect despite being miles apart.
You need to keep a safe distance from others, as they may have the coronavirus without yet knowing. Staying cooped up and alone in your home can lead to depression and loneliness.
Don’t completely isolate yourself from your friends and family. Ask them to speak with you regularly over the phone. Schedule times to video-call one another. Hearing their voices and seeing their smiles can raise your spirits. So do whatever you can to remain social and spend time with loved ones.
Practice Breathing Exercises
Breathing exercises are an excellent way to reduce your anxiety and stress. They’ll calm your nerves and pull you out of whatever dark mental funnel you’re in.
The website Healthline lists a few techniques you can use. All of them are worthy of consideration, but we’ve listed four of them below:
- Take longer exhales — Deep inhales won’t always calm you down. Exhaling, on the other hand, is linked to the part of your nervous system that helps you calm down.
- Focus on your breathing — Think about how it feels to breathe. Acknowledge your belly and upper body expanding as you inhale and shrink as you exhale. Consider your inhaling and exhaling a trade — you’re giving away negative oxygen and bringing in new, positive oxygen. You’re a new person with it.
- Alternate nostrils — Focus your mind on whatever you can to break up negative thoughts. You can even focus on your nostrils. Instead of breathing in through both, attempt to inhale and exhale oxygen through just one. Then switch.
Trust in Your Safety Measures
If you’ve taken precautions — asked for virtual doctor appointments, restricted visitors and remained in your home — then you should be fine. The coronavirus spreads through direct, in-person human interaction.
Many people with mesothelioma worry that they’ll somehow get the virus despite doing everything in their control. Let those fears go. If you’re practicing “social distancing” and staying at home — including having groceries and prescriptions delivered to your residence — then you are safe from the virus.
Know That This Will All End Soon
As the cliche goes, “This too shall pass.”
Eventually, the coronavirus pandemic will end. You will be able to go outside, hug your friends and family, attend doctor’s appointments and undergo planned treatment.
We don’t know how long the quarantine will last. We could be locked down in our homes for a couple more weeks, or it may last much longer.
But it will end.
In the lowest moments, when you struggle with depression and loneliness and other mental struggles, remind yourself that we will reach a finish.
The mesothelioma community is here for support. If you’d like to speak with someone, our patient advocate Jenna Campagna is available for whatever you need. She’s a registered nurse and medical expert.
Most of all, she’s compassionate and understanding, and she’s here to help all mesothelioma patients in any way possible. Please email her at email@example.com.
Show Sources & Author
- 5-4-3-2-1 Coping Technique for Anxiety. University of Rochester Medical Center. Retrieved from:
https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/behavioral-health-partners/bhp-blog/april-2018/5-4-3-2-1-coping-technique-for-anxiety.aspx. Accessed: 03/30/2020.
- 8 Breathing Exercises to Try When You Feel Anxious. Healthline. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/health/breathing-exercises-for-anxiety. Accessed: 03/30/2020.