The Impact of COVID-19 Isolation on Anxiety Symptoms
Most of us may be seeking shelter at home but that does not necessarily shelter us from anxiety and its impact. Everyone is more nervous than usual these days but anxiety is a whole other level. It’s a diagnosable disorder in which individuals remain in a chronic state of high alert — even when no threat is present. When you factor in a clear and present threat like the COVID-19 pandemic, the risks are raised exponentially. That said, managing anxiety in the midst of social distancing is possible. It requires awareness, self-care, and online counseling.
Common Anxiety Symptoms
Of course, endless variations exist but even so, there are many common threads, e.g.
- Excessive worrying
- Irritability, agitation, and restlessness
- Sleep disturbances
- Sweating and trembling
- Tense and/or achy muscles
- Irrational fears
- Increased heart rate
- Rapid breathing
- Decreased concentration and focus
- Social isolation
- Panic attacks
COVID-19 and Anxiety
I know what you’re thinking. That list applies to everyone during the COVID-19 crisis. But, as mentioned above, an anxiety disorder is much more than momentary or temporary stress. It denotes an ongoing pattern of symptoms and behaviors — all of which can be exacerbated by the current situation.
As with our previous discussion of depression and COVID-19, anxiety increases the likelihood of social withdrawal. If an individual is already feeling a daily sense of danger, this will certainly escalate when a worldwide problem emerges. On top of that, we are being actively encouraged to isolate. To counter this tricky combination, you can begin with some self-help tactics.
Managing Anxiety During a Global Pandemic
Sheltering at home is not the most conducive circumstance for lots of physical activities. But, besides the obvious bodily benefits, movement plays a positive role in lowering one’s stress levels. Try to get up and move around often. If you have access to safe outdoor areas a brisk walk and fresh air can do wonders for your state of mind.
Mindfulness is a wonderful practice when practically everything seems to be beyond our control. Bringing oneself into the present moment can alleviate the regrets of the past and anxious feelings about the future that might pile up in your mind with limited social contact. Breathing exercises and meditation are proven avenues for soothing your mind, redirecting your thoughts, and focusing on the moment.
Each and every day — every hour perhaps — we are receiving contradictory and startling news updates. Consider using your journal to differentiate between irrational fears and genuine concerns. This journal can be referred to in times of increased anxiety. It’ll be a reminder of what you’ve identified and prioritized in terms of fears. It will also come in handy during your online therapy sessions to uncover recurring triggers and persistent issues.
Speaking of relentless news updates, it is absolutely crucial to schedule regular tech breaks into your daily life. Even before COVID-19, non-stop notifications and alerts can lead anyone into a panicked state. Now, there is no room for negotiation. Step away from your devices.
Lean on Your Support System
The urge to isolate can be best neutralized via contact with your trusted social circle. Whatever method you choose, reach out to your loved ones and let them know you’re open to regular check-ins. Whether your support system is one person or many, you always have the indispensable option of counseling.
Help is Just a Click or Call Away
Right now, children have school lessons piped directly into their bedrooms. Work from home is now a viable and preferred option for many employees. It’s no surprise then, that something as essential as therapy follows suit.
Online counseling has existed for a while but these days, it has never been more common nor more necessary. You can do sessions via telephone or choose to use video chat. Either option has been shown to deliver quality treatment with results as good as, if not better than, traditional in-person setting.