Coronavirus and The Fear of the Unknown

Girl walking in a field

When news first spread about the Coronavirus, I immediately created my personal boundaries. I am someone who lives with OCD and Anxiety, and I knew that if I started to panic or engage with every news article that it would be a spiral.

I really limited my news intake right from the start and did my best to stay focused on my truth. I am a young, healthy individual with a very strong (thankfully) immune system.

Yet, as the days have progressed and our nation has entered an even more dire situation, I have found it increasingly difficult to keep those barriers and remain level-headed with everything going on.

There are times I want to yell and scream and panic. There are times I want to burst out crying. There are other times where I feel weirdly calm and incredibly spiritual.

I know that there will be a time where this will all be better. But the point is, I am allowing myself to move through all of these emotions, knowing that there is no right way to mentally and emotionally cope with a pandemic.

Balancing Personal and Collective Needs During Coronavirus

What I have realized, over time, is how this is actually not about me at all. Yes, I might be fine, but it’s about the huge numbers of people who are at risk.

It’s about being there for my patients as a therapist when they are feeling incredibly overwhelmed and have no one else to turn to. It’s about being a supportive wife to my husband and a loving family member and friend.

As much as I want to turn inward and am attending to my personal needs, this is a time to balance both our internal worlds and the outside. It’s about simultaneously practicing self-care and being more aware of and mindful of those around us.

As Benjamin Cheyette states [1], “The psychological contagion caused by Covid-19 (Coronavirus) can be overcome by remembering that we are all in this together…But it also includes remembering that this is one time when you truly don’t want to “be first,” so make an effort to be especially courteous to your fellow human beings.” This is a way to find a connection with both your inner self and with those around you.

A Time of Unknown

In a time of unknown, which is often the crux of anxiety for those who deal with that, we try our hardest to have something to hold onto. If we are someone who has struggled with an Eating Disorder, for example, it’s hard not to want to turn to your symptoms as a way to numb out or to give you a false sense of control.

If we are an addict of some sort, you may feel an increased sense of urgency to engage in your drug of choice in order to cope with the stressful times. But now, more than ever, the Coronavirus presents a time where we need to be our strongest.

We need nourishment, and we need a lot of it. We need to find other, healthier ways of coping. We need to go back to the basics.

Woman thinks about CoronavirusOver time, in our society, we have become more glued to our phones and spent less time outdoors. We have lost the ability to learn how to self-soothe. We are so accustomed to quick fixes for our pain (drinking, using drugs, scrolling on social media, etc.) that we don’t even have the tools to regulate our internal worlds in a positive way.

Now is the time to find those tools again. It’s the time to remember the things we did when we were young, like playing board games or spending time in nature. This can give us a sense of peace and happiness. It’s the time to get creative. It’s the time to focus on our mental health more than ever before.

Finding Meaning

I like to believe that everything happens for a reason, and as much as this Coronavirus pandemic is the scariest and most uncomfortable situation in every way, there is some reason we are going through this.

I believe that we can come together in a more profound way than ever before if we truly take this time to connect with ourselves and one another in a way that we have not recently done. We can become more aware of the world we live in and be more mindful of how we interact with that world.

A sense of meaning and purpose can help you move more gracefully through these challenging times, and I encourage you to look for that meaning for yourself to help get you through the Coronavirus. And don’t forget to scrub under your fingernails while you’re at it.

1. Cheyette, Benjamin. Combating a Mental Health Pandemic. (March 15, 2020).

About the Author:

Emma Demar ImageEmma Demar, LMSW is a therapist at Intrinpsych Woman on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. She holds an LMSW from Fordham University and holds a BA in Creative Writing from Trinity College. Emma recently completed a 2-Year Fellowship at Intrinpsych where she was expertly trained in Eating Disorders and DBT.

She uses a holistic approach in working with her patients, drawing from her background in Psychodynamic, CBT, and DBT, and she likes to begin where the client is and work from a strengths-based perspective. She specializes in Eating Disorders, OCD and related mental health disorders. Emma uses a direct, honest and open approach in working with her patients, who are generally women ages 12 to 32. She freelance writes for various mental health websites, and she blogs on her own website,

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Reviewed & Approved on March 24, 2020, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC
Published March 24, 2020, on