Anxiety is something we all deal with in life. It is the body’s natural response to external events that may pose a threat to our safety or sense of security, and as such, it is often quite adaptive in regards to its ability to help keep us safe. The recent global events related to COVID-19 have created a new and unique type of threat to our understanding of safety and security; seemingly overnight our financial, relational, and existential sense of what safety means has been upended, and many are discovering new and uncomfortable symptoms that may be anxiety-related.
Some common symptoms of anxiety include the following: excessive worry, fear, or feelings of impending doom, racing or unwanted thoughts, difficulty sleeping, and difficulty concentrating. Furthermore, anxiety can manifest itself physically and can include symptoms such as the upset stomach, tension headaches, and nausea, as well as palpations, trembling, and fatigue. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms currently, you are not alone. In fact, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) describe pandemic-related anxiety as a major health concern originating from many new stressors related to the global health crisis including fear of contracting the virus, social isolation, financial pressures, unemployment, working from home, homeschooling children, etc.
If you or a loved one are currently experiencing anxiety, there are a number of steps you can take to address your symptoms.
1.) Keep informed, but limit your exposure to news media. Maintaining this balance is helpful to reduce some of the repetitive anxious thoughts associated with a constant stream of shifting news.
2.) Maintain a daily routine, or create one as much as possible. This routine can include waking up and going to sleep at the same time every day, keeping up with personal hygiene, eating nutritious meals, exercising regularly, engaging in hobbies, and making time for rest.
3.) Stay in contact with other people at least once per day, be that via phone or video chat. We are by nature relational creatures and have relational needs, even or especially during the time of a pandemic.
4.) Avoid the use of alcohol and/or drugs as a means of coping with your anxiety. It will only exacerbate your symptoms and can lead to long-term consequences such as physical or psychological dependence.
5.) Lastly, but certainly not least, this might be a great opportunity to seek out therapy if it is financially feasible for you. There are many options for teletherapy available, and it can be a wonderful resource to process some of the fear and worry that is a natural part of this experience.
You are not alone, we are in this together, and OCHPA is here to help!