Dealing with Anxiety Post Pandemic
The past year has been traumatic. Whether you’ve worked from home or risked your health on the front line, feelings of anxiety and stress during the COVID-19 pandemic were immediate and overwhelming. While we’ve all endured the new “normal” of being isolated in our homes and denied our social outlets, experiencing high anxiety levels for a long period can lead to psychological distress.
As we start to resume our normal routines, it’s normal to feel anxious. Despite the excitement that comes along with seeing our friends and family members again, feelings of anxiety toward increased exposure, the lack of social distancing, and our physical health will likely remain for some time to come. To help you manage, here are some of the best coping strategies for dealing with anxiety.
Check in with yourself regularly.
The anxiety levels that individuals experience after the coronavirus pandemic will vary significantly from person to person, and it’s important to check in with your physical and mental health regularly. Many individuals with anxiety disorders experience a complex combination of psychological and physical symptoms, and recognizing your anxiety symptoms is the first step to learning healthy ways to cope.
Some common anxiety symptoms include:
- Feeling nervous, restless, or tense
- Shortness of breath or difficulty taking deep breaths
- Increased heart rate
- Feeling weak or tired
- Sleep and/or digestive issues
- Panic attacks
- Avoiding things that trigger your anxiety
If anxious feelings won’t go away, you may have a diagnosable mental illness, such as social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, or generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). When anxiety interferes with your daily life, it’s essential to seek professional mental health care from a clinical psychologist and schedule regular appointments with your healthcare provider to rule out any underlying health problems.
Join a support group.
Even if you don’t have a diagnosable anxiety disorder, joining a support group can serve as a valuable source of social support. Support groups provide support from other people who feel the same way you do, which can help improve your mood and help you feel less alone.
If you’re feeling anxious about social situations, online support groups are a great way to connect with others from the comfort of your own home. During support group sessions, you might also learn healthy ways or techniques to cope that help you in your own situation.
Although support groups are not a substitute for therapy, they can help you manage your mental health, analyze your own behaviors, and meet other people in similar situations. If you’re not sure where to start, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offers various online and in-person support group resources.
Focus on the present moment.
It’s easy to stress yourself out when you’re focused on the negatives of returning to work, social situations, and pre-COVID life. Instead of scrolling through social media or reading the latest statistics on COVID-19, set aside some time to focus on the present moment—whether that means spending time at home with family members, going on a walk in your neighborhood, or meditating in a quiet, dimly lit room.
Don’t forget about your physical health, either. Taking care of your body is just as important as your mind—and indulging in self-care can help alleviate anxious thoughts and feelings. According to the American Psychological Association, eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and incorporating exercise into your daily routine can help improve your mental health and boost your resilience to stress.
Seek professional help if you need it.
With more people getting vaccinated and some restrictions loosening across the United States, more and more people are reconnecting with loved ones, returning to work, and returning to some normalcy. However, if you’re experiencing anxious thoughts, dreading the return to work, or avoiding social situations, reaching out for professional help is the best way to start feeling better.
Depending on your specific anxiety symptoms and the severity of your anxiety, your therapist may recommend psychotherapy for anxiety, medication, or a combination of both. Several types of therapy are effective in improving anxiety symptoms, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychodynamic therapy.
To work through these feelings, reach out to a mental health professional through The Therapy Group of DC. We know that dealing with anxiety can feel overwhelming—and our compassionate, professional psychologists are available to help you every step of the way. From learning healthy coping techniques to navigating difficult situations, one of our licensed therapists will help you overcome anxiety in a post-COVID-19 world.