Coping With Anxiety During a Pandemic


Coronavirus or COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic and many areas around the world are in various states of lockdown and quarantine. These measures are meant to flatten the curve and minimize the virus’ spread, decrease potential casualties, and lighten the load on medical facilities whose personnel are doing all they can. On the civilian side of things, countless are now staying at home, working remotely, tending to their kids since schools have been closed, and so on. Those going on supply runs will find grocery store shelves emptied. Young people are fretting for their parents, as those older than 60 are more susceptible to the infection. Even Tom Hanks and Idris Elba have tested positive.


The point is, there are so many stressors in these times. So it's normal to feel anxiety as a pandemic affects every aspect of our lives. Thankfully, there are ways to cope with anxiety and stressors.




Know that you are not alone

Fear and uncertainty are natural responses to things people don't understand, that they feel threatens them and their loved ones. There is still a lot left unknown regarding COVID-19, it has infected hundreds of thousands globally and thousands within the United States.


So, naturally, these events will have profound effects on almost everyone. These can result in individuals feeling unsafe, having difficulty sleeping, experiencing distressing emotions and social isolation, and struggling with balancing work and life due to the shift in lifestyle and social distancing protocols.


Yet in these moments, it's important to keep in mind that we are not alone. These are shared experiences, and there can be solace in knowing that others are going through similar circumstances. So individuals can realize that they aren't in it alone, and instead of feeling alienation or isolation they can find common ground with others.


So lean on your community


On that note, despite social distancing protocols, people can still connect with other, communities can still continue to function. There will be adjustments, for sure, but they aren't insurmountable. People can check in with each other with video calls, or hang out in groups virtually through teleconferencing. Communities can share resources online. Charitable acts and volunteering by strained medical facilities and at-risk individuals - they can always use the help! Likewise, those who need assistance should not hesitate to ask for it.


Managing media consumption


On one hand there is staying informed, on the other hand, there is being overwhelmed by the news and information. Scrolling through Twitter and being bombarded by everyone's take can be paralyzing. Distress can accumulate and result in emotional exhaustion.


So while people should not unplug entirely, as it is important to be on the lookout for situation updates, they can dial down their exposure to media - particularly unnecessary ones.


Structuring fixed hours for social media use and relying on verified sources of information can not only help lessen media consumption and stress but also free one up to do other things.




Set a routine


One of the jarring shifts in everyday life is the drastic alteration of one's routine. It can be calming, or it can give leave so much free time that one's thoughts go wild. So set a schedule, allot times for work, periods of proper breaks for meals and sleep, even regimen for exercise. Remember to eat healthy and avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can increase anxiety. And continue with relaxing activities - like reading books or watching movies.


Consider mindfulness


Meditation and similar mindfulness exercises can help one focus on the present and shift away from anxieties over not knowing what the future holds. Mindfulness activities encourage one to notice what's happening in the here and now, the immediate things, including one's feelings. At the same time, this is done without judgment. This can help one resolve feelings in a way that's more constructive than finding distractions to escape anxiety, which won't help one feel better in the long run.


Focus on other subjects


When supporting one another, it's important to give actual support rather than just add to each other's stress. So while keeping in touch with friends, consider discussing other topics to avoid exchanging and amplifying one another's worries.


If anxiety interferes with work, school or personal relationships, then consider reaching out to mental health professionals if possible. Consider using telemedicine. For those already in treatment for anxiety disorders, then the treatments should be continued.



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