You’re not alone. COVID anxiety is a real issue that many are dealing with.
When the COVID vaccine became available, a big sigh of relief spread over most of the country. Finally, the pandemic will be ending soon. And for a while, it seemed like it was. Cities were relaxing mandates and restrictions, and people started leaving their houses more. Soon, public gatherings had become a thing again. Lockdowns? What lockdowns?
But for some reason, you just didn’t feel quite ready to get back out there. The idea of meeting up with friends, going back to the office, and even going out for a meal was causing some pretty bad anxiety. Some have nicknamed this phenomenon “Cave Syndrome” or the more creative but harder to say “Coronasomnia” and it’s a very real problem for a lot of people.
Now, it seems those fears were warranted as the Delta variant is causing the pandemic to surge once again. With just over 50% of the United States fully vaccinated, and children under the age of 12 still unable to get the vaccine, parents’ fears of sending their kids back to school are growing as many school districts are refusing to implement a mask mandate.
Some good news is that you can manage your COVID anxiety. But before we get into how you can, let’s talk about COVID anxiety itself.
COVID anxiety covers a range of feelings you might be experiencing. It’s associated with the stress people feel toward the pandemic and is typically caused by the fear that you or your loved ones could get infected, and possibly die from the virus.
The stress you feel can cause the following.
- Fear, anger, sadness, worry, numbness or frustration
- Social anxiety
- Generalized anxiety; feeling like something bad will happen
- Changes in appetite, energy, desires, and interests
- Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
- Trouble sleeping with possible nightmares
- Physical reactions such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and skin rashes
- Increased chronic health problems
- Worsening of mental health problems
- Tobacco, alcohol, and other substance abuse
It’s perfectly normal to feel any of these symptoms, or even multiple symptoms when it comes to COVID anxiety. These are unprecedented times, after all. Here are some ways you can manage the stress you feel from COVID anxiety:
- Take breaks from the news, whether it’s in your local paper or on social media. While it’s good to be informed, reading or hearing about the pandemic constantly can be upsetting. If you must read the news, check it just a couple of times a day; the earlier the better. Try not to have your phone, TV or computer with you right before bed so you won’t be tempted to check it.
- Take time to unwind and take part in activities you enjoy to help keep your mind off the pandemic.
- Connect with friends and family. Check in with them to see how they are doing, and open yourself up to conversation about how you’re feeling.
- Reach out to your community, even if it’s online. Perhaps you can find a volunteer opportunity through your place of worship or a local non-profit organization.
It’s also important to take care of your body, as stress can affect you physically, not just mentally.
- Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. I recommend a great app called Waking Up with Sam Harris.
- Eat healthy, well-balanced meals
- Exercise regularly, whether it’s going for a run, lifting weights or simply going for a walk around your neighborhood.
- Get plenty of quality sleep.
- Avoid excessive amounts of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs
- Continue to visit your doctor for regular checkups and vaccinations
- Keep wearing your masks, social distance from others and wash your hands regularly. These are things you can control, which can help alleviate stress.
- Get vaccinated if you haven’t already with the COVID vaccine
So, now that you have these steps to help with your COVID anxiety, let’s talk about that COVID letdown you may also be feeling.
Yes, you’ve had your vaccination, You were so ready to start attending concerts, sporting events and going to movie theaters again. But now that the Delta variant is wreaking havoc across the country, it looks like we’ll have to wait longer on being able to do those things again.
I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling let down that we’re still dealing with COVID. In fact, a lot of people are. We seemed so close to being done with the pandemic and now it’s roaring back. So what now? It’s an emotional rollercoaster for sure. But there are ways you can handle this overwhelming feeling of disappointment many of us are feeling:
- Acknowledge your feelings – You may be feeling sad, angry, frustrated or all three, and that’s okay. Accept these feelings. A lot of us are feeling the same way. Many of us had so many plans for the fall and now those plans look more and more like they won’t happen. Sit with these feelings for a little while and allow them to settle until you feel you’re ready to move to the next step.
- Accept that we don’t know when this will end – Rather than trying to predict when this pandemic will end, just accept that we don’t know. There are too many uncertainties. Try to come to peace with knowing that we don’t know and prepare yourself for more disappointment, which will help alleviate the crushing feeling you may be feeling now.
- Pivot – Just when we all thought we were getting back to normal, it turns out we have to wait even longer. And like when the pandemic started, nobody knows how long that will be. Keep in mind that life is always changing. Be prepared to pivot your daily habits as more information comes in about the Delta Variant. Staying informed and being prepared is one of the best ways to manage the stress you’re feeling now.
If, after trying a few of these suggestions, you still feel like you’re unable to control your COVID anxiety or let down, perhaps it’s time to seek professional help.
Make an appointment with one of our team of expert therapists to learn how to take control of your COVID anxiety and stress.