COVID Anxiety and Stress: How to Handle It

Do you feel yourself becoming progressively angry anytime you hear about COVID-19? Do you ever worry if you’re the only one who isn’t thriving during this pandemic when you observe your friends’ supposedly productive life through their social media posts?

Let me assure you that if you’ve been feeling a lot more anxious or agitated recently, you’re not alone. You are not alone in your feelings.

COVID-19 stormed throughout the country, upending plans and habits and leaving a path of uncertainty in its wake—enough to trigger mental health difficulties that must be addressed.

Anxiety and depression are on the rise in the United States, according to a recent CDC report on mental health, with the national rate of anxiety tripling in the second quarter compared to the prior-year quarter (from 8.1 percent to 25.5 percent) and depression nearly quadrupling (from 6.5 percent to 24.3 percent). [1]

Those figures, as well as the pandemic’s far-reaching consequences on our personal and professional life, are cause for concern. Here are some strategies for dealing with COVID worry and stress.

1. Deal With It Immediately

You may be tempted to minimize or dismiss how you’re feeling, or you may not even be aware of how nervous or tense you’ve been until now.

Consider the implications for your entire well-being if you continue to ignore these difficulties. Unfortunately, wishing away your anxiety and tension will not make them go away, just as COVID will not magically evaporate.

You must avoid the normality bias, which is the natural sensation that you may skip through the hardest parts of this year or that things will soon return to the way they were before COVID.[2]

The normality prejudice is one of over a hundred potentially dangerous judgment errors referred to as cognitive biases by researchers in cognitive neuroscience, psychology, and behavioral economics, including myself. [3]

They are the product of a mix of our evolutionary history and structural differences in the way our brains are wired.

Instead, we should prepare for the protracted fight against COVID-19 and, as a result, deal with anxiety and sadness now rather than later. Consider how your productivity, peace of mind, and personal and professional relationships will improve if you opt to confront the issue head-on.

2. Anxious and Stressed? Address These Needs Now

Many of the things that make you apprehensive or stressed are most likely related to the current state of affairs. You most likely believe you have little control over your life, and this sense of powerlessness may cause you to exaggerate even minor situations.

However, there are some things in your power. And obtaining these will almost certainly create a sense of security and even purpose—both of which are desperately needed during these tense times. Abraham Maslow’s theory of human motivation and the pyramid of needs based on his work are presumably familiar to you.

Maslow suggested that some basic needs must be addressed in order for people to remain motivated[4]

Psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman amended Maslow’s theory based on newer research, and his new model suggests that humans require the following to feel secure and motivated: [5]

3. Safety

Let’s take a look at physical security. In the event of a significant COVID epidemic in your area, make sure you and your loved ones can stay in a safe spot for months at a time.

Given the waves of diseases and constraints we’re facing while we wait for a vaccine, you should be able to shelter in place.

Even if it’s unlikely, it’s a good idea to plan for a realistic gloomy case. That involves having two months’ worth of basic food and cleaning supplies, as well as any medications you might need.

Rather than clearing the shelves at your local grocery store, try purchasing such items in bulk from specialized internet suppliers to avoid supply problems. It is more responsible as well as less expensive.

Keep in mind that many businesses and organizations (perhaps including yours) have transitioned to a remote work paradigm.

Depending on the business route your company takes, you may have to telecommute for a while, or even permanently. Because you’ll be spending more time indoors, make sure it’s a safe environment for you to work in.

4. Connection to Others

If you wish to overcome COVID anxiety, your relationship with your loved ones and community is crucial. Maintaining it necessitates paying attention to a number of factors.

First, think about your immediate relationships with family members. When it comes to these connections, it’s preferable to foresee and resolve issues ahead of time than have them explode later[6]

If you live with a love partner, you’ll have to figure out how to communicate in a healthy way given that you’re together all the time.

The same can be said for the rest of your family. If you have school-aged or university-aged children, you’ll need to figure out how to keep them entertained while they’re cooped up indoors.

You’ll also need to stay in touch with their schools in order to receive updates on their online schoolwork. These revisions will also give you a clearer image of how your children’s education should be handled – one less item to worry about on your to-do list.

Dealing with older persons above the age of 60, or anyone in your home with underlying health concerns should be given a lot more thought (including yourself if you fit either category).

Because they have a higher risk of catching COVID, you and other members of your home must take extra precautions to keep them healthy.

Given that over half of individuals infected have no or little symptoms, this implies being more cautious than you would be before the pandemic.

Second, think about your loved ones who aren’t living with you. It’s possible that you and your romantic partner will not be sharing a residence.

Depending on how prone you and other members of your home are to COVID, you may choose for a socially distant connection or risk physical intimacy.

Whatever you pick, you must make your decision thoughtfully rather than on the spur of the moment.[7]

Your pals are subject to the same rules. Because you won’t be able to have a beer with them or meet for lunch in person due to social distancing guidelines and preferences, you’ll need to find other ways to keep connected.

For the next few months, if not years, you’ll be communicating and spending time with them virtually.

The same can be said about your community activities, such as faith-based organizations, clubs, and nonprofit action. If limitations are tightened again, you’ll need a go-to online routine.

Given the current wave of restrictions and lockdowns, now is a better time than ever to find out what social arrangement works best for you and your relationships.

While different states in the United States have their own social distancing policies, these can change based on the intensity of viral epidemics. [8]

Remember that maintaining strong friendships and community ties can offer you much more comfort and stability during this pandemic. This will make it easier for you to deal with COVID anxiety.

5. Self-Esteem

Last but not least, you must address and maintain your self-esteem, which encompasses your self-confidence, self-respect, and sense of control over your destiny.

Making goals for how you want to live your life during and after the pandemic can help you feel more in charge and confident, which can help you cope with stress and anxiety.

In this time of constraints and limitations, you’ll also want to consider other areas where you might improve.

For example, living at home provides the ideal environment for learning or improving new abilities. You could try learning to cook those recipes you’ve had saved for a long time, or you could learn to code or play an instrument.

When you combine your efforts with a membership in an online hobbyist organization, you’ll be able to make even more significant contacts, which can only be a good thing.

Addressing your basic needs gives you the power and can help you gain control over your surroundings. It is a terrific counterbalance to stress and anxiety throughout this pandemic and beyond when done purposefully and consistently.

Conclusion

There’s no way of knowing how this pandemic will finish or how many more lives will be disrupted along the road. As a result, we should expect COVID worry and increased stress throughout this epidemic.
While the uncertainty that this concept brings might generate a variety of feelings of anxiety and tension, there are steps you can do to satisfy your basic requirements and protect yourself from anxiety and stress.

Reference:

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Mental Health, Substance Use, and Suicidal Ideation During the COVID-19 Pandemic

2. National Library of Medicine: The continuity principle: a unified approach to disaster and trauma

3. ScienceMag.org: Judgment under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases

4. Classics in the History of Psychology: A Theory of Human Motivation by A.H. Maslow

5. Penguin Random House: Transcend: The New Science of Self-Actualization

6. New Harbinger: The Blindspots Between Us

7. Disaster Avoidance Experts: Adapt and Plan for the New Abnormal of the COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic

8. The Washington Post: Where states reopened and cases spiked after the U.S. shutdown

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