Anxiety, per the National Institute of Mental Health, is a perfectly natural response to stressful stimuli. However, this is different from anxiety disorders, which are persistent and seemingly random. Often these disorders will affect daily activities and inhibit growth in several areas, such as career goals and interpersonal relationships.
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is often difficult to discern what is and isn’t anxiety derived from the crisis itself and what is caused by the general disorders. Often times, the anxiety that is felt is affected by both simultaneously.
“I definitely have been struggling with anxiety as a pregnant nurse,” said Lisa Dolan, an obstetrics nurse of ten years. “Anxiety hit me the day our daycare closed March 24 …. I only leave for work, and occasionally the grocery store, in which I wear a mask. I saw my parents last March 2; some of my siblings I saw March 16.”
“Our work protocols change weekly to adapt to this virus,” she added, so a routine is never set.
Per CNN’s article, “5 signs your coronavirus anxiety has turned serious, threatening your mental health, and what to do about it,” Jane Webber, a trauma counselor and a professor of counselor education at Kean University in New Jersey, said, “We’re living constantly with a level of fear, a heightened state of arousal, much like Vietnam vets and Iraqi vets live with every day, and our sympathetic nervous system can only stay in that overwhelmed, almost frenetic state for so long before we crash.”
Per the article, there are five coping mechanisms for anxiety that our bodies designed to help our psyche that might actually harm it over time.
- Sleepless nights
- A fixation on bad news
- Loss of interest and pleasure
- Suicidal thoughts
When these symptoms have become apparent, it is time for a change of course.
Per Mind’s article, “Anxiety and panic attacks,” some healthy coping mechanisms for anxiety, both in and out of a pandemic, are —
- Talking to someone you trust
- Trying to manage your concerns
- Looking after your physical health (exercise, healthy diet, etc.)
- Utilizing breathing techniques
- Trying out a support group (during the pandemic, one hosted online through video conference apps)
- Complementary and alternative therapies (used in addition with accredited professional mental health guidance.)
These are unprecedented times that we face, but as isolated as we feel as we shelter in place … it’s important to know that we are not facing these times alone.
As Fred Rogers once said, during times of trouble one should always, “Look for the helpers.”