Many of us are having difficulty managing anxiety during COVID-19. Some are worried about bills due because of unemployment. Others are essential employees anxious about bringing the coronavirus home. But no matter who you are, COVID-19 has brought with it an increase in anxiety and a sense of uncertainty. While anxiety is a normal emotion, we all manage daily. If left unchecked or without adequate coping strategies, anxiety can be debilitating. Now, more than ever, we all must take the time to check in with ourselves. This means practicing good self-care and evaluating our coping strategies. Managing anxiety during COVID-19 means being attentive to our mental health.
MANAGING ANXIETY DURING COVID-19
First and foremost, we want to check in with ourselves regularly regarding how we are feeling. Anxiety often manifests itself in physical symptoms, so we must pay attention to our bodies and what they may be telling us about our stress level. Some physical signs of anxiety include increased heart rate, headaches, and gastrointestinal issues. Our bodies often act as an alarm clock for our mental health. If you are experiencing some of these symptoms, it may be a good idea to try:
- Slow things down with a grounding technique. When we are anxious, we are often worried about future “what ifs.” Grounding techniques can bring us back to the present moment, helping to reduce that sense of anxiety to a more manageable level. Try the following to relax. Look around the room and label and describe five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can taste or smell, and one positive affirmation. Triggering all of your senses and focusing solely on what is around, you can help settle and clear your mind.
- Check your thoughts. Our self-talk often fuels anxiety, and the language we use is important. Checking in with your thoughts can help you recognize patterns of unhelpful thinking. For example, many people are feeling “stuck at home” during this time. But this mindset can lead to increased anxiety and general feelings of unhappiness. Try catching this thought when it occurs and reframing it to “now I have time to focus on my home/myself/or a project I have wanted to work on.” Take one step each day towards accomplishing this to help create a more positive outlook.
GOOD HABITS TO DEVELOP
Reduce time spent on COVID-related news. This one seems impossible at times, but if you are finding that the overwhelming amount of information related to COVID is impacting your mood, it may be a good idea to scale back. Being informed is important. But too much can add to a sense of hopelessness and anxiety about the future. So, set a time limit on the amount of time each day you spend watching the news or engage in social media.
Keep to a routine. Often, we feel anxious when we are faced with things outside of our control. Creating a sense of normalcy and controlling what we can control is an important step in anxiety reduction. Thus, setting a schedule for yourself as close to your normal routine as possible. Wake up when you normally would, and if you are working from home, start and end your tasks during the same time you would typically have worked. This helps maintain a work/life balance needed for stress management. If you are unable to work at home, fill your time with projects and activities that help you to feel focused and productive.
Reach out for professional help. If you find that the anxiety is still unmanageable, it may be a good idea to speak to a professional. Telehealth offers the flexibility and convenience of speaking to a trained mental health professional from the safety and comfort of your own home.
HOW HARMONY BAY CAN HELP
Harmony Bay Wellness offers telehealth appointments for a variety of mental health conditions. So if you’re wondering if there’s a psychiatrist or therapist near me in Cherry Hill, NJ reach out. For more information about telehealth services at Harmony Bay Wellness call 855.765.6399 or visit harmonybaywellness.com
Jenny Adamski, LCSW, Telehealth Director