Managing Our Anxiety About Coronavirus On Next Question with Katie Couric
By Diana Brown
March 20, 2020
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or at a retreat like Jared Leto, you’ve been hearing nothing but coronavirus concerns and updates. With so much uncertainty, people are feeling anxious and worried about themselves, their families, their jobs, and how the country – well, the world – will recover economically from the extreme measures we’re having to take to slow the spread. So on this episode of Next Question, Katie Couric talks – on the phone, of course – with psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb to discuss how we can handle our anxiety during this new normal, and with San Diego physician Dr. Peter Attia about what he’s learned about the virus and what it means for our health, and our healthcare system, in the long run.
Lori wants us all to know that we shouldn’t minimize our feelings. While many of us might be trying to explain away our anxiety and worries by thinking that someone has it much worse, or that everyone is dealing with it so just suck it up, it would be more beneficial if we accepted our feelings. It’s valid to feel uncertain and concerned, no matter how little the virus or the containment measures may be impacting your life. So she says we should “stay grounded in the present” rather than constantly worrying about the future. “Part of the problem is that we’re reading about it 24/7,” she says. “It’s like we’re binge-eating junk food….it does not help you, it actually makes you psychologically ill.” Once-daily updates are plenty, she says; we should be spending our time getting creative about how we can connect to each other virtually, show each other support, and build community around this so we don’t feel alone.
After that calming conversation, Katie turns to Dr. Attia next, to ask him several incisive questions about the virus: exactly what went wrong in Italy to create such a calamity? How is this virus, which isn’t nearly as deadly as Ebola, managing to spread with such rapidity? Why is there such a shortage of medical equipment, and why can’t we just ramp up production? He points out that we can make a million ventilators for a million hospitals, but “what we can’t make more of is doctors, nurses, and respiratory therapists” to properly administer the treatment. So social distancing is imperative to slow the impact on our healthcare system. “We should be asking ourselves, ‘What can I do to ensure that I don’t need medical resources anytime soon?’” he tells Katie. He also talks about some of the long-term effects of COVID-19, what they’re learning now about repurposing drugs to fight the virus while we wait for a vaccine to be developed, what healthcare providers are doing to protect themselves from infection, and much more. Listen to Next Question with Katie Couric to get your daily coronavirus update, and then take Lori’s advice and go for a walk, or call your mother – you’ve had enough for one day.
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