Coping with Anxiety During Covid
With COVID-19 continuing to disrupt our everyday lives, it is easy to feel anxious and worried. Just about everyone is wondering when things will go back to normal, and if things will go back to normal. People are being laid off, many are having trouble paying rent or mortgages, and the news is a constant stream of frightening headlines. What would make this situation even more difficult? If you had an anxiety disorder before this all unfolded.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S. Though humans, in general, are prone to experiencing feelings of anxiety now and then, such as during heavy traffic or a tense sports game, it normally passes. A person with diagnosable anxiety experiences these feelings all the time or almost all the time, which is ultimately debilitating to their everyday lives.
Some of the feelings a person with anxiety experiences are:
- Apprehension or dread
- Feeling on edge, jumpy
- Restlessness, insomnia
- Feeling fearful and certain of impending danger
Though there are several types of anxiety, many of these characteristics are noted under the broad umbrella of the disorder. One can also experience physical symptoms, such as:
- Digestive problems
- Headaches and fatigue
- Racing heart, shortness of breath
These symptoms make it difficult to go outside, partake in social activities, hold down a job, and more. They are often alleviated by medicine prescribed by doctors in addition to therapy and techniques aimed to help individuals destress.
In the age of COVID, we have so many unknowns swirling around us, which complicates things further for those of us with anxiety. With no known cure yet discovered, everyone is advised to socially distance and limit interactions with those outside your home. This may sound like paradise for a socially anxious person, but it actually can cause regression and heightening of symptoms. Furthermore, we have a constant stream of news being reported which, while it provides access to information, can also add to our anxiety (especially depending on the source). What are some ways we can manage our anxiety to calm some of our fears?
Tips for Managing Anxiety
With the Internet and current state of social media being a constant connector to us and the rest of the world, it can be overwhelming to be informed of new death tolls, infection numbers, trouble statistics, and more. Although it’s important to stay informed, try to stay in tune with yourself to know if you are being overwhelmed and need a break from the news.
Here are a few other ways to limit the amount of news you’re exposed to:
- Only subscribe to a few organizations that are trustworthy and scientifically approved, such as the CDC or the World Health Organization.
- If you subscribe to email updates/newsletters or follow on a social media channel, you can opt to mute for a certain amount of time, or cut down to once a week or once a month.
- Turn off your phone, TV, or computer for a few hours and pick up a favorite book or stream a funny TV show.
Limiting the amount of news you intake can help the feelings of helplessness you might be experiencing. The right amount of staying informed but also not flooding your mind with the state of things is a good balance.
Some other things you can do don’t involve news-checking or staying up to date at all, but have to do more with your mind, thoughts, and well-being. By practicing some simple self-care tips, you’ll also calm those COVID nerves.
- Take a walk outside if it’s nice out – this will get your body moving (endorphins!) and if it’s sunny, you’ll get some Vitamin D which can contribute to a better mood.
- Other forms of exercise are encouraged, too! Yoga classes are available online, and if you have any gym equipment at home you can utilize that, too.
- Try a calming meditation to center yourself and ease your mind. You can find a lot of these on YouTube, or even by listening to your own breathing.
- Journal or write to an old friend or relative. It might be helpful to put your thoughts to paper instead of typing onto a screen.
- Get as much sleep as you can, which will help keep your immune system at its best.
- Try to maintain a regular routine, such as getting up and going to bed at the same time each day. This keeps feelings of normalcy/order in place.
How You Can Help
As everyone is concerned about contracting COVID-19, it is undoubtedly something people with anxiety are feeling, too. As we mentioned before, there is no cure currently available, but it is important to note that there are some health precautions scientifically proven to help cut down your chances of catching and/or spreading it. Practicing these and being proactive will help anxiety and feelings of hopelessness you might be experiencing.
- Wash your hands frequently for 20 seconds each time using warm water and soap
- Keep hand sanitizer and wet wipes around to use on your hands and any questionable surfaces
- Try your best not to touch your face (particularly eyes, nose, and mouth)
- Keep at a 6’ distance from others if you must go out
- Do not partake in social gatherings of 10 or more people
- Limit trips to the store or other traveling
- Wear a mask when out in public
These can help limit your own personal risk, and will keep you from spreading it to others. If you begin to feel worried, try to remember that you’re doing your part. By wearing a mask and washing your hands, along with the other tips we suggest, you’re making others safer, which is a noble thing.
There are many unknowns right now, and that may not change for quite some time. You may want to try to pin down the fears you have that are most disruptive. Writing these down in a journal or notes on your phone is helpful. If you have a friend or therapist you feel comfortable discussing them with, certainly do so. It helps to have someone to share your fears with, even if it’s just to vent. From there, you may find that some solutions are closer than you think.
Try to complete tasks around your living space, especially if you are quarantining, working from home, or simply self-isolating. Having tidy surroundings helps our mental state, and the act of cleaning can help declutter your mind, as well. It will help you feel accomplished later when you look around and see the dishes done or the carpet vacuumed.
It also helps to stay connected with friends and family. Check in on your loved ones, and let them know how you’re doing, too. We’re all in this together, and know that everyone is feeling nervous right now. Focusing on the tangibles and practicing gratitude is a way to stay anchored and clear-headed while we navigate through the pandemic.
If you’re feeling more overwhelmed then usual and think you might need some professional help, we are here for you. Our Admissions specialists have gone through similar struggles, and are available 24/7 to help you formulate a plan. Please give us a call today.