Help for Anxiety During Coronavirus Isolation
The past several weeks of fear, uncertainty, isolation and social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic are taking an emotional toll on people already living with an anxiety disorder, as well as individuals who have never before suffered from anxiety.
In these trying times it is important to remember that you are not powerless – and that taking certain specific steps to cope can help you get through this stressful period. In this article West Bloomfield area therapist Victoria Schreiber shares some tips for managing anxiety during the coronavirus crisis.
Stay Informed About the Coronavirus – But Not Obsessively
For many individuals the uncertainty about the coronavirus is the hardest thing to handle. No one knows how long this will last, or when a cure will be on the horizon. And, for many, the uncertainty of their employment or financial situation compounds the fear and anxiety.
As a result it can be easy to “catastrophize” or “imagine the worse.” So it is important to stay informed – but do not obsessively check the news. Avoid sensationalistic news coverage that mongers fear – and stick to non-inflammatory, trustworthy sources like the CDC, or your local public health authorities.
Also, limit how often you check for news updates – once in the morning and once in the evening is typically sufficient. And, turn off the media anytime you start feeling overwhelmed! Additionally, make sure “checking the news” is not the last thing you do before bed! Read a book or meditate instead.
Focus on Things You Can Control During Coronavirus
Focus on those concrete tasks you can accomplish, rather than dwelling on circumstances beyond your control. Organize your pantry and plan your family meals, make a schedule of things to do, check in by phone on elderly relatives, or schedule family game nights.
And, of course, following all recommended steps to reduce your own personal risk of coronavirus (and the risk of spread it to others). In other words, control what you can and do, not dwell on what is beyond your control.
Avoid “What-If” Thinking to Avoid Anxiety
Relinquishing your desire for control is easier said than done. But a simple technique can help you stop ruminating over and over on the coronavirus. This breathing technique can help you ground yourself in the present moment – and stop the negative spiraling.
When you find yourself worrying about “what-if” try this. Focus your attention on your breath and your body. Notice every sight, sound, and smell around you and what your body is feeling. Remain still and breathe slowly and deeply in through your nose, and out through your mouth. Bring your mind back to your body and breathe every time it drifts to another thought.
Stay Connected During Coronavirus to Help Anxiety
One task proven to help calm coronavirus anxiety is to stay connected with others when you are physically isolated. Humans are wired to be social animals. So isolation and loneliness can aggravate anxiety and depression. That is why it’s essential to stay connected with others – even when depression or anxiety make us want to withdraw and avoid conversing with others.
Scheduling a regular phone call, or Skype or Zoom date, can force you to “push through” and maintain social contact. Social media can also help us feel connected to friends and family – as well as to feel connected in a greater sense to our community and people with similar interests. But be careful to avoid or “block” any negative conversations, “fear mongering”, and those people on social media who obsess over coronavirus.
Help Others during Coronavirus to Reduce Anxiety
Scientific studies have proven that people who focus on others in need – especially during times of crises – are both mentally happier and physically healthier. Even when during coronavirus social distancing there are still many things you can do to help others.
If you are financially able, donate to foods banks or relief organizations. Or, if you shop or have groceries delivered, see if an elderly, disabled or at-risk neighbors needs anything – then leave it on their doorstep. Even making chalk-art drawings on the sidewalk with your kids can help give passersby a much needed smile. Or, leave a basket of “goodies” like fruit, granola bars and water bottles on your porch for overworked delivery drivers.
Much of the anxiety that comes from the coronavirus pandemic stems from feeling powerless. But doing helpful things for others can help you regain a feeling of control over your life, and add meaning and purpose to your days stuck at home.
Take Care of Yourself during Coronavirus Isolation
Tried-and-true stress management strategies apply just as well to the anxiety of coronavirus, as they do to normal everyday life. But with our lives in the upheaval of new schedules and ways of life, it can be easy to forget the “basics” of self-care and emotional health.
Go through this checklist every few days and make sure you are not slipping into “bad habits”. Try and do as many things on this list as you can every day!
- Eat healthy meals. Snack between meals on fruits or veggies and avoid sugary or fatty junk foods.
- Get plenty of sleep, but not too much! 7 to 9 hours is ideal for optimal health in adults. So don’t stay up all night, but don’t spend all day in bed, either.
- Pray, meditate or decompress – even if it’s while taking a walk or sneaking away for a 15 minute soak in the tub.
- Maintain a routine as best you can by sticking to a regular sleep, work or school, and meal schedule.
- Take time to enjoy your favorite activities: reading, baking, crafting, watching a Netflix comedy, or shooting hoops in the driveway.
- Exercise and remain active: bike, hike, walk, do yoga, dance to your favorite tunes, or find a great work-out video on YouTube to try.
- Avoid “self-medicating” by being careful not to rely on alcohol, marijuana or other substances to deal with anxiety or depression.
Get Professional Help for Coronavirus Anxiety
If the circumstances of the coronavirus situation have made your anxiety worse, or if you feel that your emotional health is deteriorating, it is important to reach out to a mental health professional as soon as possible.
There is no need to feel helpless or alone as you deal with anxiety, depression, or anger related to the challenges of the current coronavirus pandemic. Many mental health professionals are available to talk to you via video chat (sometimes called telehealth or telemedicine).
And, insurance companies have been very good about covering this type of treatment during the coronavirus pandemic.
West Bloomfield Therapist – Coronavirus Anxiety & Depression
Telehealth / Telemedicine Video Chat Appointments Available
I am an experienced anxiety and depression therapist in the West Bloomfield area – and I am here to help you via video appointment during these challenging times.
With a warm, thoughtful, supportive and caring approach I will be happy to work with you to help you deal with the emotional and psychological toll of the coronavirus pandemic.
I offer telehealth / telemedicine appointments – and I am available to talk to you via video chat to help you manage your feelings of anxiety, depression, fear, numbness, isolation, helplessness, anger, agitation, and/or withdrawal – so that you can live a happy and healthy life.
Talk to a Telehealth / Telemedicine Therapist About Coronavirus Anxiety: 248-476-4515
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