How to Handle Negative Thoughts during the Coronavirus Crisis

Experiencing fear and uncertainty during the current COVID-19 pandemic is normal. However, you must keep those negative thoughts in check. Only in this way can you ensure that your mind is always your best ally in adverse times.
How to Handle Negative Thoughts during the Coronavirus Crisis
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

Having negative thoughts during the COVID-19 crisis is completely normal. It’s important to know that, at this time, most people around the world are experiencing the same feelings, fear, and uncertainty. This may help you feel a little less alone and more connected. However, you need to control your mental state in order not to fall into a state of despair. Learn how to handle negative thoughts in today’s article.

As we’ve been pointing out in our blog, the current crisis with the coronavirus is about more than just taking care of your physical health. In these circumstances, it’s essential to take care of your psychological well-being as well.

Factors such as confinement, the separation from some of your loved ones, and the feeling of not knowing what may happen in the future can greatly affect your internal balance.

Your emotions are going to test you. In such an unpredictable context, you need resources. It’s true that you have every right to let yourself seek the momentary refuge of sadness from time to time. However, you need to be able to keep control over what you can control: your own thoughts and behaviors.

There’s something that’s spreading much faster than the coronavirus itself: panic. You can’t succumb to fear because, otherwise, you’ll be of no use to yourself or others. It’s time to activate resources that you didn’t know you had and learn how to handle negative thoughts during this difficult time.

A man thinking.

How to handle negative thoughts during the COVID-19 crisis

Organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) or the American Psychological Association (APA) are insisting, quite rightly, on several preventive measures. They’re advising people to wash their hands frequently, stay in their houses, keep social distancing, and only leave their homes for essential matters.

These measures reduce the risk of infection but, at the same time, they’re turning people into anxiety capsules that could explode at any moment.

The coronavirus pandemic has been with us since late 2019 and is advancing rapidly. However, it isn’t only causing infection (a good percentage of which are mild). It’s also disrupting lives, projects, jobs, studies, and short-term goals.

At the moment, we’re like figures shut inside a crystal ball, and this can really take its toll on the mind. Let’s have a look at how you can handle negative thoughts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

I’m going to get infected and everything is going to go wrong… I’m going to lose some of my loved ones

Fear of infection or even death are the most common thoughts in these contexts. Now, the fact that these fears pass through your mind at some point is perfectly normal. And, if it happens, it’s serving a purpose: to protect you and your loved ones.

What you shouldn’t permit, however, is for these thoughts to be constantly buzzing around your head. This will just paralyze you and feed panic even more. So what can you do in these circumstances?

  • A realistic approach is needed. Yes, there’s a risk of contagion but, if you take appropriate measures, that risk is greatly reduced.
  • It’s also true that there’s a possibility of someone close to us dying but you must look at the statistics. The risk is between 3 and 5 %, or probably a lot less as there are probably more people affected than the figures show. It’s particularly affecting the elderly and other vulnerable people among us and they’re the ones we should really be protecting.
  • Every time these negative thoughts invade you, you must rationalize them and then visualize a drawer where you can shut away the most negative and unhelpful thoughts. Then, lock the drawer!
A man looking out the window.

This nightmare will never end – this situation is too much for me!

In psychology, we call this type of reasoning “affective prognosis“. We do it when we predict how we’re going to feel tomorrow, the day after, and the following month. It’s common for people to allow themselves to be hijacked by the most negative emotions, such as panic and anguish. Far from handling them, you can give them absolute power.

On the other hand, you should know that this is also one of the most recurrent negative thoughts during the COVID-19 crisis. People start to think that this confinement will last forever and that we’ll never beat the virus. Let’s be clear about this – your chances of handling this crisis well depend on you having an iron grip on your mind.

One way to achieve this is by regulating your emotional world. Relaxation, meditation, doing activities that take your mind off things, and talking to your loved ones prove helpful.

Furthermore, when you feel this way, ask yourself this: how many times have you had the feeling that a terrible situation will never go away, and in the end it did? Keep calm, all of this will pass!

I’m going to lose my job and the world as we know it is going to change

You can have many negative thoughts during the COVID-19 crisis. You may be worried you might lose your job or that the world as you know it is going to change.

In these cases, there’s something that’s quite clear: this isn’t an irrational fear. It would be naive to convince yourself that once we get the virus under control, things will go back to exactly the way they were before.

There’s a high probability that many people will lose their jobs. So how can you handle that fear?

  • By prioritizing and focusing on the needs of the moment. Right now, the most important thing is for us to look after ourselves, keep ourselves safe, protect ourselves, and flatten the infection curve. That’s everyone’s current priority and the only thing that’s really in our hands to do.
  • You don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, that’s true. But, whatever happens, you can decide to face it calmly. When the time comes, you can act accordingly. Always focus on doing one thing at a time, step by step, day by day.

In conclusion, this pandemic will end. This is a fact. Humanity has already been through similar scenarios and, right now, we have more means, resources, and better experts and doctors than ever before. The human race is amazing when it comes together, and that’s what’s happening at the moment.

Being afraid is completely normal but you must control it. Use your emotions to your own advantage and remember what your priorities are: physical health and psychological well-being.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.