The Covid-19 pandemic has done quite a number on the world. All around us are stories of deaths, gloom, and lockdowns. We cannot socialize like we used to, travel, or function outside of our homes without the fear of illness. It can be very hard to learn how to cope with covid-19 anxiety and the issues that surround us.
The worst thing about this shift from our normal lives is that we did not expect it. A lot of us welcomed 2020 full of hope and with hearts filled with positivity about what lay ahead. Then in the blink of an eye we shut down our lives. Our businesses, schools, religious institutions, and social gatherings were suddenly closed.
For some, this pandemic has been a well-timed opportunity to pivot themselves into new careers, hobbies, and projects. The slow-down we’ve experienced has allowed them to reflect. This reflection may encourage positive habits. Positive habits means a better you!
But for some of us, this period has been rough! If you’re a social butterfly like myself, you probably felt very isolated and drained. It could be the worst year you have ever had. You worry about so much; your job, your pre-existing health condition, the health of your friends and older family members, exposure from being in the front-lines, or about the suffering others are all muddling your mind. You struggle to remain calm, but anxiety and depression are stealing your joy and peace. Studies have been done to show the emotional and mental impact that Covid-19 has had on so many people.
You are not alone. I know how anxiety creeps in when you are at your lowest. I have experienced both anxiety and depression with Fibromyalgia. The good news is that you can manage your Covid-19 anxiety. Here are the ways that have worked for me and can help you cope with covid-19 anxiety.
Care for our bodies
We need to take care of our bodies during quarantine and lockdown. Set aside time every day to exercise and stretch and to practice deep breathing. Find a quiet place to meditate daily. Get enough sleep and eat healthy meals.
Manage your emotions
Feeling stressed, worried, and anxious during disasters is natural. What is most important is knowing your feelings and practicing self-care. If you have pre-existing mental health issues, it is best to get in touch with a mental health professional to help you during this time.
Simple self-care steps to help you manage anxiety and worry are:
- Get a strong support system.
- Make time for the activities you enjoy doing, such as painting, cycling, jogging, and writing.
- Journal your emotions.
- Reframe negative thoughts into positive, self-motivating thoughts. Instead of focusing on the external “I am alone.” look internally, “I can use this time to clear my head and focus on myself.” Aim to achieve one productive task every day.
- Limit your exposure to too much news.
- Maintain your pre-Covid routine as much as possible for structure.
Connect with other people
We need to spend time with others to maintain our connection with the world. Social distancing may have changed how we interact. But our primal need for connection remains. I would suggest setting aside time daily to connect with your friends, family, colleagues, and your community. You can do so through email, phone, video calls, or social media. Keeping in touch with loved ones is an important way to cope with covid-19 anxiety.
Share your feelings of covid-19 anxiety with others
It is okay to feel like you do not want to speak to anyone, don’t allow that feeling to become prolonged and isolate you. Talk to others about how you are feeling. There are online groups on social platforms (like Facebook) where you can talk to people who share the same experience.
Disconnect from news stories about the pandemic
It may seem counter-productive, but this strategy works. Daily consumption of news updates steeped in negative information will increase your anxiety.
Disconnect yourself from news stories and negative posts on social media about the pandemic. Much of this information is myths and conspiracies. Focus instead on your health. When you need factual updates, check reputable websites such as the World Health Organization.
At the end of the day, the best things you can do to cope with covid-19 anxiety are:
- take care of our bodies
- connect with loved ones
- manage our feelings
- share with others
- disconnect from negative news
These strategies will help you feel better and cope with the unpredictable pandemic. If you still feel very anxious after implementing the above, please get in touch with a mental health professional near you.