How to cope with pandemic anxiety is much to be desired. There is so much uncertainty in our world today, with vaccine roll-out, emotions running high, social distancing, health issues, threats to job loss, viruses and variants. It is no wonder that there are a great many people with ‘pandemic’ anxiety. Every day we see more evidence that vaccines are a measure to keep people safe.
With both vaccinated and unvaccinated persons hospitalised, what can possibly be the answer? Or rather, is there more we can do?
No one person has the ‘ultimate’ answer. It is probably because of this why there are so many who are experiencing anxiety.
There are many different types of anxiety
- GAD (Generalised anxiety disorder). E.g. feelings of excessive, unrealistic worry and tension
- Panic disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
- Specific phobias
- Separation anxiety
- Selective mutism
- Medication-induced anxiety disorder
For the purpose of this article, we will talk about ‘GAD’ or as I call it, pandemic anxiety. This type of anxiety can create certain symptoms, such as –
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling weak or tired
- Hyperventilation (rapid/uncontrolled breathing)
- Increased heart rate
- Sensing impending danger, panic or doom
- Tense or restless
Anxiety disorder or anxiety can become excessive due to negative life situations. When you can’t stop worrying about health, money, family, work or even course work you would always be expecting some kind of disaster to happen.
The good news is, there are many practical things you can do to cope with ‘pandemic anxiety’.
Physical Coping Strategies
Exercise by walking or indoor fitness with aerobics, strength building, balance training, endurance, or others, with frequency, can reduce nervousness. On the other hand, it helps to reduce some diseases, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. Exercise can also help keep your body at a healthy weight including ageing well. Don’t forget – when drink water in between!
A healthy diet is one of the best ways of coping with anxiety, especially if your immune system is robust with nutrients and vitamins. By balancing your diet with carbohydrates, good fat, protein, vegetable and fruit then your anxiety would decrease as you maintain good health!
Social media is another method of staying in touch with loved ones and reducing anxiety. Whether family catch up on zoom, face time friends, keeping in touch on Facebook, sharing positive experiences on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or keeping in touch with other businesses on LinkedIn. All of these are ways to reduce anxiety.
Mental Wellbeing Coping Strategies
Relaxation techniques such as breathing from the top of your chest and not from your abdomen can make you feel more nervous. Breathing from the diaphragm taking full deep slow breaths can help reduce anxiety.
- Breathe in slowly for 4 secs
- Holding your breath for 4 secs
- Breath out for 6 secs
Repeat for 2 mins or until you feel calm again
Rest is important alongside exercise. By simply sitting still you can focus on your breathing, causing you to relax more. You may wish to use your five senses by identifying one specific thing and focusing on this before moving to another sense. This can help in any further impending anxiety.
Sleep deprivation can hinder optimal health and may affect your hormone levels, mood and weight. The amount of sleep you need is different for your age group. However, adults need at least 7 – 9 hours. Although some can have 6 or 10 hours of sleep per day. Create a ‘sleep haven’ in your room by using dim lights, free from noise, or comfortable temperature. You can also take a hot shower or bath to aid in a restful sleep!
Treatment using talk therapy can help with anxiety. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can help you recognise and change your thought patterns and behaviours that cause you to be anxious. By using this method, you can reduce distorted thinking and worry less.
With everything in life, you can get relief for your symptoms using the correct treatment. As symptoms can come and go during stressful situations it is important to have a plan that includes diet, nutrition, therapy and lifestyle habits. That way, should anxiety persist you can call on your support team – either doctor, therapist or nutritionist. That’s how to cope with pandemic anxiety!
It is important to remember that only a doctor can diagnose GAD. If this interferes with daily living or present for more than 6 months seek professional help.
Look out for my post on panic attacks later this week!
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