Coping with Anxiety During COVID

Balancing Act

As we teeter on a fence, on one side tightening restrictions and on the other things loosening and a push to “go back to normal,” many people are feeling increased anxiety and, with it, increased confusion about how to cope and how they “should“ feel. First of all, it’s important to understand that anxiety or stress you may be having related to the pandemic is, at its core, normal! That isn’t to say that people can’t experience clinically significant anxiety triggered by the pandemic, but simply feeling anxious, scared, concerned, frustrated, or a myriad of other emotions due to the pandemic is totally understandable and probably a fairly healthy reaction.

If you fall under the category of more severe reaction, for example to the point where you feel like your anxiety is getting in the way of your regular activities or causing you significant distress, then it might be a great time to talk to a therapist. One of the convenient consequences of Covid is that most therapists now offer telehealth so you don’t have to worry about going out in public if that makes you uncomfortable.

For those experiencing stress or distress that they feel is at a tolerable level that may not need intervention from a professional this time, a lot of the old coping skills still come into play:

While you may not feel comfortable going to a gym, you can work out at home or perhaps go for a walk outside if you’re in an area in which you feel comfortable doing that. Some apps are offering free classes. Get a friend to commit to a class or a 30 day challenge with you to stay accountable and to make progress toward our next tip!

Socializing is as important now as ever, and just because you can’t be in person with your friends doesn’t mean you have to stop doing things together. Unlike the pandemic of the early 1900s, we now have a myriad of ways to connect remotely, including sending video messages, audio messages, texts, emails, direct messages through social media, and, of course, live video chatting. A quick look online can give you some unique ideas of ways to connect with friends. People have found ways to play games and enjoy dinners together remotely. Some streaming services now offer the ability to live stream a movie simultaneously across multiple locations, so that you really feel like you’re watching it together! The most important thing is to put the effort in to make these connections. When we aren’t seeing each other in person, and particularly when we’re not feeling particularly positive ourselves, it can be very easy to forget to send those text messages or make phone calls to check in on friends and family. Make it a conscious effort. Put it on your calendar if that would help! Just make sure you do it regularly. 

Additionally, a lot of people talk about picking up unhealthy eating habits, and sometimes the pounds to go along with them, during the pandemic. If you’re amongst that group, don’t worry, you’re not alone! But the pandemic again offers us a unique opportunity to make some nutritional changes that might otherwise be difficult if, for example, you’re frequently invited out to dinner parties, or go to lunch at work, etc. Consider trying out one of the many meal-plan/home chef options that are delivered to your door. Do this with a partner to make it more fun and add in that social element. 

Most importantly of all, do what you can to focus on the present. Thinking about how things “used to be,“ or fantasizing about “getting back to normal“ can have the effect of making us miss the good that might be happening in our lives right now. While there’s plenty to be concerned about, we also don’t know how long this “new normal” might last, and learning to live in it in a healthy and effective way will make every day more positive.

Be safe and be happy!