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Handling anxiety amid coronavirus

Licensed professional counselors work to ease anxiety for their patients during coronavirus fear.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — With images of masks, hospital beds, and sick people splashed everywhere, coronavirus anxiety has become a real thing. Now professional counselors are working with their patients on how to deal with the news and prepare for coronavirus to reach Hampton Roads.

Licensed professional counselor Annie Phillips, of Beach Counseling Center, said coronavirus could trigger many patients.

"For example, type-A people who like to have control and people who have some PTSD or past trauma could be sent into a hysterical panic attack,” said Phillips. The challenge is educating her patients about coronavirus and how to handle the anxiety from it.

"I would make them aware that this is likely going to happen. So, educating them on the possibilities like for example, OCD-like behaviors could escalate at this time. And when that does happen, okay, let's practice some mindfulness,” said Phillips. 

Phillips said she would use various tools to help patients handle the stress.

"So like guided meditation, and all kinds of visualizations of health. And something simple, you can touch something physical and focus on the texture, or count all the red items in the room. And that helps so they can really get back into the here and into the now,” said Phillips. 

Philips said for patients who had phobias, now is a great time to make goals.

"This could be limiting yourself on how many times you wash your hands and limiting yourself to how many times you sanitize the doorknobs,” said Phillips. 

Philips said everyone can reduce stress by getting prepared.

"Talking about it and being prepared, having a backup plan if they do close the schools, or what to do for childcare, and call people in your tribe,” said Phillips. 

Philips said that if patients are concerned about getting sick, they can always get therapy from home.

 "Telehealth so that people don't have to leave their house and have even more fear of being exposed to the virus."

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