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As COVID-19 sweeps through the world, people feel the impact economically, personally, and mentally. In these uncertain times, many are worried about their jobs, their health, and their family. Our world looks different now, and anxiety is growing during this crisis.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of worry or unease regarding the future. It can take many forms, such as generalized anxiety (general worry of the future), social anxiety (fear of social interactions), separation anxiety (fear of separation from someone), panic disorder (chronic panic attacks), and phobias (fear of something specific like flying).
While symptoms vary, some of the most common include racing thoughts, excessive worrying, or insomnia. A few other common anxiety symptoms include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Muscle tension
During a crisis such as the current national health crisis, the chronic underlying sense of fear changes what anxiety looks like. To help cope with the flood of information about a crisis, people may simplify what they read, resulting in missing key messages. Some hold onto their current routines even when they no longer work because they're afraid of change. People may look for help and facts in rumors, which only causes more harm.
Anxiety triggers during a crisis
Currently, COVID-19 news, updates, and stories flood the internet. People face the reality of the situation daily as they remain at home, distance themselves, and scroll through their phones. Everyone’s thinking about it and everyone’s talking about it. These are anxiety triggers people encounter constantly.
It’s natural to feel anxiety during times of crisis. But without therapy, coping with stress can be difficult, and anxiety symptoms can affect people's daily lives.
Coping with anxiety
When anxiety overwhelms you, simple exercises can help you cope with stress.
Take a minute
When you’re feeling restless, step away for a moment. Focus on your breathing and count to ten. Give yourself time to collect your thoughts and feelings.
Make a goal
Rather than focusing on the unknown, consider what you can actually do and make a goal for yourself. Try out a new recipe, write a short story, or take a course.
Humans are social beings, so isolation can be difficult. Staying connected through phone and video calls can decrease anxiety and provide positive experiences.
With just a few minutes of focusing on the breath, we can bring ourselves back to the present. Meditate to help yourself stay in the present moment rather than focusing on the future.
Just as there are actions that decrease anxiety, there are also actions that can increase it, such as indulging our ruminations or ignoring our anxiety. Being aware of how we respond to our anxiety is half the battle.
Online therapy helps decrease anxiety
Even with these techniques, sometimes it’s tough coping with stress by ourselves. Given the rising anxieties that occur during a crisis, telehealth and online therapy are excellent tools. Whether a person has an anxiety disorder or not, a crisis such as COVID-19 increases stress. A little help can improve the quality of someone’s life.
Mental health providers help clients recognize and change negative thought patterns, providing the tools they need for coping with depression and anxiety. Research shows that people who attend therapy show substantial improvements in their mental health compared to those who don’t. Those who seek out counseling learn coping mechanisms and gain insight they can use throughout their lives.
While social distancing is the new normal, telehealth is more vital than ever. Studies in 2014 and 2018 concluded that online counseling is just as effective as face-to-face visits, and with virtual visits, people can receive the mental health access they need even in the age of social distancing.
During any crisis, people need the right mental health providers and the right tools for coping with anxiety and depression. Learn more about how Spring Health can support your team during these challenging times.