It has been a full year since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus has affected the entire world, bringing radical change to the way we shop, socialize, and travel, as well as how we conduct business and education.
Although COVID-19 is a physical illness, research shows that its psychological effects may also linger. Experts have stated that the COVID-19 outbreak has triggered such emotions as fear, anxiety, and anger in individuals and groups. As well, the pandemic has increased stress and had psychological impacts such as insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety and depressive disorders.
If you find yourself feeling anxious and stressed, you are not alone. Many people around the world are still struggling with post-Covid-19 stress disorder.
In the Harvard Health Blog, Dr. John Sharp writes about coping with coronavirus anxiety. We’ve listed his recommendations and effective tips below.
Learn to monitor your anxiety
Ask yourself these questions during the day:
- What typically happens to your body when worries mount?
- How anxious are you? If you were to rate your anxiety on a score of 1 to 10, what would it be?
- What do you fear the most?
- What usually helps you handle fear, anxiety, and worries?
When anxiety rises because we’re facing a distressing threat like the new coronavirus, we need to focus on what tends to work for us to ease anxiety — that, plus doing a little bit more of some actions and a little bit less of others.
Keep these thoughts in mind. You’re fully prepared to help yourself. You can take steps to calm and steady yourself. Remember what works for you — because as fellow humans we’re not so dissimilar, but we do tend to have our own preferences and best practices.
Even if it is not possible to get together, keep in touch with your loved ones through texts, emails, phone calls and video chats.
Feeling the power of your connections is good for both you and them.
Pay attention to your information consumption
Stick with sources of credible medical information, so you can avoid misinformation about the virus and the illness it causes.
Avoiding constant exposure to the news and/or social media can also help lower your anxiety levels. It is helpful to turn off notifications on your phone and limit your access to information to certain hours.
Develop habits for relaxation
Studies indicate that a regular yoga or exercise practice is effective in helping you relax.
Meditation can also be very calming.
Controlled breathing can be helpful in lessening anxiety. One simple technique is called square breathing. Visualize your breath traveling along a square. As you follow the instructions to inhale, hold your breath, or exhale, count slowly to three on each side. Try it now. Inhale up the first side of the square. Slowly count one, two, three. Hold your breath across the top. One, two, three. Exhale down the other side of the square. One, two, three. Then hold your breath across the bottom. One, two, three. After a few minutes of this you should be feeling calmer and more centred.
While the three techniques recommended by Dr. Sharp are useful for relieving anxiety, he also suggests that you may have other ways of relaxing, which could include taking a walk, watching a comedy, reading a book, or contacting a friend.
As you observe yourself, stay connected with your loved ones, become conscious of your information consumption, and make a habit of relaxation. You may find that your nervous system reorganizes itself over time. If you have applied these methods, but your anxiety is beyond what you can handle, it might be helpful to consult a specialist.
And, as Dr. Sharp reminds us, “We’re all on this journey together.”