The COVID Series: 4 Practical Ways To Manage Coronavirus Anxiety


Considering the amount of uncertainty and fear that the ongoing pandemic has introduced into our lives, it’s normal to feel much more stressed, worried, and anxious than usual. Yet with so much information continuously streaming in from multiple sources about new outbreaks, clusters, measures, and statistics, it’s easy to wind up neglecting our own mental and emotional needs.


A recent op-ed in the Harvard Business Review, for instance, pinpointed anticipatory grief—”that feeling we get about what the future holds when we’re uncertain”—as the single most distinct negative emotional reaction to the pandemic. Similarly, Time magazine has also cautioned that “The Coronavirus Pandemic May Be Causing An Anxiety Pandemic.”

Constant negativity, when left unfettered, often builds up into emotional overwhelm, impairing our ability to function productively and efficiently on a daily basis and impairing our overall well-being. Here’s how you can manage all the mounting anxiety precipitated from the pandemic.

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1. Be discerning about your news consumption


As vital as it is to stay up-to-date on the latest pandemic developments, a crucial distinction has to be drawn between staying informed and feeding your own fears and anxiety. Stress, grief, and panic, for example, are all valid emotional reactions in such uncertain times as these. Excessive news consumption, however, only serves to amplify the magnitude of these negative emotions to the point of emotional overwhelm.


Indeed, the effects of constant media consumption from a 24/7 news cycle have proven to be dire enough that the American Psychological Association (APA) recently published an online resource on how to deal with COVID-19 news coverage without significantly impairing mental and emotional well-being.

Equally important is the need to verify your news sources. Fake news, for one, tends to spread like wildfire on social media, thus unnecessarily fanning the flames of panic and anxiety.


2. Practice self-compassion and recognise your fears & anxieties


While bottling up your negative emotions might seem like an effective short-term strategy to deal with stress and anxiety, it almost always backfires in the long run. Sweeping your emotional discomfort under the carpet at the outset only causes it to return with a vengeance in the future.


It’s reverse psychology; the more you wall off your negative emotions, the more you end up obsessing over them. Eventually, it can even lead to emotional overwhelm and breakdowns.

Emotional self-awareness is paramount in recognising and understanding the complicated (and often convoluted) emotional reactions that most of us have to the pandemic. Considering the scale and speed with which the pandemic has spread so far, anxiety itself is a perfectly normal reaction to have. Just giving yourself some space and time to observe your emotional reactions can be cathartic, as opposed to bottling everything up.


3. Incorporate a mindfulness practice into your daily routine


Just as decluttering our physical spaces can have huge benefits to our productivity and well-being, taking the time to declutter our minds and hearts is crucial for mental clarity and emotional stability.


In a pandemic, especially, when coronavirus anxieties can range from worries about health to financial security to fears of loneliness, having a regular mindfulness practice is essential for our overall well-being.

Studies have found, for instance, that spending 10 minutes meditating in the mornings and evenings makes a huge difference in reducing stress, keeping anxiety at bay, and cultivating the mental presence that helps you stay in the present instead of letting your mind hurtle towards the uncertainties of the future.


4. Engage in genuine social connection without compromising social distancing


Considering the amount of time we’re likely to be spending inside our homes and being physically separated from our friends and loved ones, fostering genuine social connection is of the utmost importance. Numerous psychological theories, have put forward the indispensability of positive social relationships to our happiness and overall well-being.


Physical distance doesn’t have to translate into an emotional or social disconnect. Spending regular, sustained, and meaningful time bonding with our loved ones without compromising the need for social distancing is hugely important.

Simply knowing that we’re not struggling with anxiety, loneliness, or fear on our own and that others are going through the exact same struggles can be very comforting.


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