As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on with highly transmissible variants like omicron emerging, many people are feeling a sense of hopelessness as we start to move backwards when it comes to restrictions and lockdowns. For the past three years, we have seen our lives change drastically, and have been forced to separate from our support systems for the most part. Although social distancing is necessary to prevent COVID-19’s spread, it can be incredibly isolating, and when you are experiencing stressful emotions that can be challenging. As a result, people who have never had a history of anxiety and depression are experiencing it in droves. How can you take care of your mental health while also protecting yourself and others?
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Focus on Doing What you Can
So little is in our control right now—one thing that can be the most frustrating is that you cannot tackle the pandemic on your own. Focusing on what you can control is one way you can ease your anxiety when it comes to the effects of the pandemic. Doing things like washing your hands regularly and wearing a mask in public places is one way you can protect yourself and others. Taking these measures also further protects you from COVID-19 itself, which may ease your anxiety as well.
Connect With Friends
“It is important to realize that social distancing does not have to mean social isolation, especially with modern technologies available to many of us. Connecting with our friends and loved ones, whether by high tech means or through simple phone calls, can help us maintain ties during stressful days ahead and will give us strength to weather this difficult passage.” Says Joshua Gordon, M.D., PhD DIrector of National Institute of Mental Health.
Exercise has been proven to help ease symptoms of anxiety. “Exercise helps your body release mood-boosting endorphins and connect you to others safely.” Gordon says. Consider going for walks or joining an outdoor exercise class.
Do Things you Enjoy
“Just as you need to get enough sleep, you also need mental rest to recharge your body. Try a new hobby or do something creative to give your mind a break from work and other stressors.” Gordon says. Take a break from scrolling for COVID-19 updates and reconnect with the things you enjoy.
Seek out a Professional
“It’s important to recognize that when you’re having such anxiety and depressive symptoms that you’re having trouble working, caring for your children, or functioning every day, that’s the time when you need to reach out to those around you and seek help.” Gordon says. We can all benefit from speaking to a professional that can provide us tools to cope.
Anxiety is a hard thing to deal with but it is normal. The most important thing to do is take time for yourself and do things that bring you peace. However, if you find that your COVID anxiety starts interfering with your everyday life, seek out support and consider seeing a professional.