How to Manage Anxiety During a Pandemic
As the pandemic drags on many people are experiencing skyrocketing anxiety and stress. This is a very normal response to a dangerous illness spreading across the globe. Responses of fear, sadness, uncertainty, and powerlessness are also very normal during a pandemic. There’s not much you can do personally about the pandemic (besides remain safe and follow CDC guidelines), but there are proactive steps you can take to protect your mental health.
Let’s look at some self-care tips and strategies for dealing with new or increased anxiety and depression during the pandemic.
Manage Your Media Consumption
We’re all guilty of falling down a media rabbit hole of never-ending negative headlines. Sometimes it can feel unavoidable – the pandemic is everywhere. But especially when there’s nothing we can do to prevent it, bad news can start to wreak havoc on our mental health.
The first step to managing your media consumption is to try to get your news from reliable and trustworthy sources. We’re not talking about choosing a network that agrees with your political views – news stations on all sides tend to build hype and dwell on things that are not in your control. We mean choose truly unbiased and fact-based news sources from which to receive your pandemic-related facts. The CDC, WHO, and other scientifically-based, non-journalistic publications and organizations are an excellent option.
We realize that it’s important to stay up to date on current events and the world around you, but remember that staying informed doesn’t mean staying glued to your screen all day. The next step in managing your media consumption is to limit the amount of time you spend reading the news. Set aside a strict window of time each morning or evening and get your news fix in then. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel when you’re not bombarding your mind and your nervous system with anxiety-inducing headlines all day long.
If you start to feel the itch (because the dopamine hit from your screen and from feeling in-the-know can be very addictive) try going for a walk instead. You can also reach out to a friend, pick up a book, listen to a new song – anything that distracts you, and gives your mind a break.
Practice Good Self Care
You cannot eliminate the stress and anxiety of the pandemic completely, but you can fight its effects on your physical and mental health by practicing good self-care. Drink plenty of water, eat a balanced diet, get at least eight hours of sleep, and let yourself play – indulge in the leisure activities you enjoy the most.
Remember, just because it’s fun doesn’t mean it’s self-care. Try to stay away from alcohol and recreational drug use. While these can help you feel better in the short-term, they can ruin your sleep patterns, mess with your metabolism, and reduce your serotonin levels for days afterward. Cyclical use can quickly become a dependency or addiction that negatively affects your life.
Good self-care should be good for you and improve your physical and mental state. Exercise, time with friends, reading, cooking, eating healthy food, trying something new, taking a bath, being outside – all of these are excellent self-care options.
Talk to a Professional
Whether you had mental health issues before the pandemic, or you’re just now developing symptoms of anxiety or depression, talking to a mental health professional can help. A licensed professional will be able to help you manage your anxiety and stress and also work towards empowering you to make the best decisions for yourself during this difficult time.
If you are experiencing:
- Excessive worrying
- Increased agitation
- Difficulty Concentrating
- Difficulty staying or falling asleep
- Panic attacks
- Irrational fears
- Avoiding social situations
You may be suffering from anxiety. Contact a counselor or other mental health professional who can help you design a plan of action and a healthy self-care plan. Chenal Family Therapy is here to help.