COVID-19 Anxiety & Coping with the Pandemic
Today and for the past seven months, we have been living in a constant state of change that we did not see coming. The COVID-19 pandemic was unheard of to most of us when we made our New Year resolutions for a better life in 2020. Yet today, the coronavirus seems to be a part of our daily lives and conversations. We often watch the numbers of positive cases, deaths, hot spots, and worry about our jobs, who will become it, will there be a cure/vaccine, and the list goes on.
The unknown and unanswered questions frequently cause anxiety and stress for many of us. Similar to the adrenaline fear creates in fight or flight mode, having some level of anxiety and stress that we are all feeling with the pandemic is natural and healthy as it motivates us to plan and work through the changes we are experiencing. Unfortunately, we can over-focus on the pandemic, losing a healthy balance and creating increased stress and anxiety.
What can we do to reduce the increased stress and anxiety of the pandemic?
We all respond to the stress of change differently; therefore, knowing yourself and when your level of anxiety and stress needs to be addressed is very important to your mental health. Skills for coping with stress and anxiety can include:
- Media – everyone needs to stay informed related to the latest updates and follow the advice of experts for the best ways to care for yourself, family, and community. However, obsessively watching the news can fuel stress and anxiety. Learn to step away and find the balance that’s right for you.
- Maintain your daily routine as much as possible and ensure you are sleeping and eating as well.
- Relaxation – focus on breathing in and out slowly to reduce stress and anxiety, take a walk in nature focusing on the beauty of the scenery, or mediate
- Prevent social isolation – stay connected with family, friends, and your community. Use social media and schedule time to connect via phone calls, chat sites, and video conferencing when you are unable to be with each other. Make a goal to reach out to a least two people a day.
- Reach out and help others – helping others does increase our feelings of self-worth and value.
- Journal – journaling is an effective tool to express your feeling and reduces anxiety when you are able to put into words how you are feeling and what you are doing.
- Avoid excessive alcohol intake or other drugs to deal with anxiety.
- Exercise – exercise at any level is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety.
- Take time to enjoy activities you like to do – paint, read a good book, play board games, try new recipes, watch a movie, or any activity you enjoy.
- Be kind to yourself – the pandemic has changed our lives from a normal we enjoyed every day, allow yourself the right to feel the emotions of that loss.
We are all human; know when to reach out to others for help. If you feel the stress and anxiety are more than you can handle, be sure to reach out for help from family, friends, your community, or your provider.
If you would like additional sources on stress and anxiety visit these websites:
Anxiety and Depression Association of America: https://adaa.org
National Institute of Mental Health: www.nimh.nih.gov
National Alliance on Mental Illness: www.nami.org
- behavioral health