That being said, it can be hard not to worry when there’s a constant influx of information about surges in infections, and new COVID-19 symptoms being added to the ever-growing list, as doctors and researchers learn more about this novel coronavirus.
So, how can we counteract the panicky feeling that sometimes overcomes us when we find ourselves asking questions like, “Does this headache mean I have COVID-19? What about that cough at lunchtime? Am I tasting things correctly? Is my sense of smell normal?”
The idea is to interrupt the fear-based thought pattern long enough to give your worried brain a chance to settle, so you can think more clearly. Once you are calmer, re-examine your situation. Is the suspected coronavirus symptom that originally worried you still present, or has it resolved? Have you noticed any others? Listen to the voice of reason, rather than letting emotion provide the answers.
Get a second opinion about your suspected COVID-19 symptoms
If you simply cannot quiet your mind, get an outside gut-check from someone who knows you well. Ask if whatever suspected COVID-19 symptom you’ve noticed matches your normal pattern of allergies, headaches, or other conditions, or if it seems out of the ordinary. Is the symptom something you experience regularly — whether seasonally, annually or otherwise — or is it different from the norm?
Again, the key factor here is whether or not something marks achange. A lot of people have chronic allergies, for instance, so their sense of smell is usually poor, because they have a stuffy nose all the time. So, check in with yourself or a trusted friend before jumping to false conclusions. Unless your symptoms are new or markedly different than usual, they’re probably not due to COVID-19.
Perform regular self-checks for coronavirus symptoms
Once you’ve resolved your immediate concerns, it’s time to consider more long-term methods of anxiety management.
Many health care professionals have a regular self-check program in place to monitor themselves for symptoms of illness. You can use one, too. Often, this routine includes something measurable, such as taking your temperature twice a day, and then something more subjective, such as asking yourself questions like, “Have I been coughing more than usual today?” or “Have I experienced any shortness of breath?”
The idea is to perform this self-check regularly, so you can detect any changes early, and take appropriate measures should you suspect you’ve been exposed.
But don’t start thinking you need to take your temperature hourly “just to be safe.” More data points aren’t always better. And getting obsessive will only add to your distress. So, set up regular times to check in with yourself — or use the CDC's Coronavirus Self-Checker — and then focus your attention elsewhere.
But taking time out to do something that relaxes or distracts you is never a bad idea. So, try to give your brain a rest as often as possible. Enjoy fun activities safely whenever you can, and remember that you’re doing your very best to stay healthy.