Anxiety and the Coronavirus
“Time stands still as we race through the universe… we’re living in strange times, strange times.” The British rock band, The Moody Blues, couldn’t be more right about modern days with the coronavirus pandemic going on, even though their song, “Strange Times”, is decades old. Time is at a standstill right now, however there is a race of anxiety rushing throughout the world about the uncertainty of the current circumstances, which is causing those who struggle with general anxiety disorder, depression, and other neurodiverse individuals experience an increase of symptoms, making it even harder for them to get through their days.
While being confined to our houses, we all need coping mechanisms to take care of our mental health. Allure reached out to three therapists who offered advice for how to ground or soothe yourself when you are feeling panicked.
Accept that it’s Normal to be Stressed Out
The first step in dealing with anxiety is to recognize it’s a normal response. Symptoms of stress evolved as a way of your brain telling your body that something is off, such as there being an uncertainty about the future. “Because [stress] is uncomfortable, our temptation is to get rid of it,” said mental health counselor and educator, Shainna Ali. “We just need to recognize, manage, and adjust to it”.
Don’t Judge Yourself for How You’re Feeling
It’s important not to judge yourself for how you’re feeling or behaving. Doing so will only compound your anxiety. Instead, focus on self-compassion. “Don’t be so hard on yourself: it’s okay that you’re not perfect right now,” said Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and psychotherapist, Beverly Engel. “It’s okay that you’re struggling; we’re all struggling”.
Identify Your Self-Care Needs and Make Adjustments to Your Coping Mechanisms
“The methods we usually use for self-care and coping are disrupted because of the consequences of COVID-19”, explains Ali, “but instead of taking an all-or-nothing approach, assess your needs and ask yourself, ‘How can I still meet the need’, or, ‘What’s the second best option?’”.
Learn Grounding and Self-Soothing Techniques
“A lot of our fears are about going into our heads and obsessing and ruminating and catastrophizing,” explains Engel. “When that happens, the best way to counter a tendency to spiral or even dissociate is to ‘get out of our heads and get back into our bodies.’ Grounding techniques pull your attention back to the present moment, and that makes you feel more secure.”
Be Active and Proactive
According to LCPD and trauma therapist, Odelya Gertel Kraybil, “When we get panicky, our tendency is to freeze…what we really need is to take action.” This is because anxiety is a buildup of intense energy and emotion. Doing exercises relieves much of that anxious energy and it releases a natural high, causing you to feel happy instead.
Even though we can’t go out right now, it’s also important to stay in touch with trusted loved ones. Talking to them and being honest about your feelings can function as a major stress and anxiety relief.
Keep a Routine
Making a routine helps us stay on task and grounds us mentally. The routine doesn’t have to be inflexible, but “When you wake up in the morning, have some goals for the day”, suggests Engel. “The routine could include exercise or checking on your friends… having endless free time actually creates stress”.