How to Cope With Anxiety Related to the Current Stage of the COVID-19 Pandemic
It's now been multiple years since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and things finally seem to be starting to get back to normal. Stores, movie theaters, and offices are opening back up. Students are returning to in-person learning and fewer people are getting sick. This doesn't mean that the virus is completely gone or that there might not be another surge sometime in the future, but luckily, due to the availability of vaccines and the hard work of medical professionals, things are starting to look a little more like they did back in 2019.
While this is good news, there are a lot of people who may be struggling with anxiety about returning to the new normal after so much time social distancing and checking the latest guidelines. This is common and nothing to be ashamed of. If you feel anxious about returning to pre-pandemic ways, there are some things you can do to help you cope.
Understanding Anxiety Related to the Pandemic
For many months, we were told to do everything in our power to avoid the spread of the virus. This involved staying home a lot of the time, only going out when you absolutely needed something, working virtually, washing hands frequently, and wearing masks. It can be hard to break out of these habits and let go of the fear of getting sick or making someone else sick. You may even experience guilt returning to a more normal life.
The pandemic has been a traumatic experience for many people. You may have lost loved ones, been gravely ill yourself, gone a long time without being able to see your friends and family, struggled with finances, or suffered from unemployment. These are not things you simply get over right away and it may take time to process this trauma and begin the healing process. Remember to be kind to yourself during this time, as everyone is going through this together.
Focusing on What You Can Control
It is very easy to fall into a habit of “what if's” in relation to the pandemic. For example, you may wonder, “What if the pandemic gets really bad again?” “If I get sick, who will care for my kids?” or, “What if someone I love gets sick?” Before you know it, these imagined concerns and borrowed troubles can snowball out of control, landing you in a pit of anxiety and despair. Instead of worrying about the future, focus on what you can control right now.
You alone can not control if there is another COVID-19 surge. However, you can control other things like washing your hands, disinfecting high-touch surfaces, making sure you're vaccinated and boosted, and avoiding sharing food or drinks. You can also make sure that you're less susceptible to getting sick by taking vitamins, getting plenty of sleep, eating nutritious meals, fitting exercise into your daily schedule, getting plenty of vitamin D, and avoiding too many sugary or processed foods.
Be Aware of the Media You're Consuming
While the COVID-19 pandemic is no longer the top news story every single night as it was for so many months, it is still a frequent topic of conversation in the media. It is also often discussed online with social media or on the radio. There is a lot of controversy surrounding aspects of how the pandemic has been handled and how we should move forward. If you're not careful with your media consumption, this can become quite overwhelming and can lead to symptoms of anxiety and depression.
If you feel this happening to you, turn off the news and switch to something more positive. Consider turning off the television, talk radio, podcasts, or social feeds completely and setting your phone aside. Instead, read a chapter of a book, or spend some time outside where there are fewer distractions. Remember that you don't need to be constantly in the know regarding the pandemic; nothing bad is going to happen if you avoid the news for a few days. You may feel more relaxed and centered after taking a break.
Preventing the Pandemic From Dominating Your Conversations
For many months, COVID-19 has dominated much of our conversations. If you frequently find yourself talking about the pandemic or are around people who often do, try to change the subject and focus on more positive topics of conversation. You may also benefit from working with a therapist to deal with your anxiety associated with the pandemic. They can help you work through your emotions, learn healthier stress management strategies, and teach you helpful breathing techniques that will lessen your anxiety about COVID-19.
The pandemic has been a huge part of our lives over the last several years. It has been very traumatizing for some people, including those who have lost loved ones, been sick themselves, had to isolate from friends and family, struggled financially, or even suffered from unemployment. Now that things are starting to get back to normal, it is common to feel anxious about returning to the way things were before. To help remedy this, make sure to focus on what you can control right now, avoid too much media consumption, and don't allow the pandemic to dominate your conversations. If you find yourself still struggling, therapy may help you to find relief. At Sokya Health, we want to help you achieve your peak mental health starting today. Call (866) 657-6592 today to learn more about the types of services that we provide.