Some people ask me, “How can I feel less anxious?”

I think acceptance plays a major role in reducing anxiety during Covid-19.  No one alive today has been in a situation like this.  If we say to ourselves that we should not be anxious, this expectation will raise our anxiety.  I have been using online counseling to talk with a lot of clients about Covid-19 and the calmer ones are those who are using this time to focus on accomplishing tasks like organization, cleaning, volunteering, and doing generally helpful things.  The people who are more anxious are usually watching several hours of news per day, as well as spending a great deal of time on social media.  The anxious people often are not doing things that give them a feeling of accomplishment or helpfulness.

Some people ask for coping mechanisms for social isolation or cognitive behavioral therapy.  The first thing to remember is that people are social animals.  So, anxiety related to being less social is natural.  Since I love technology, I always recommend being social via video conference.  I see people still talking to one another in neighborhoods as they walk down the streets. They simply provide social distance.  The more one can do help others in an appropriate and healthy way, the less socially isolated you will feel.  I hear of some people sewing masks and gathering groceries for others.  While this may not be social in the traditional sense, it is still interacting with people and providing much needed help.   

I am often asked about managing depression during this pandemic.  Although it is difficult to see the good in this disaster, I want everyone to find the positives.  There are always positives in the most negative events—people are being nicer to one another, there is more time to organize and clean your house, you can take care of a long list of things that you never got to because you were too busy.  The more action you take, the less depressed you will be.  However, these are depressing times and we should all acknowledge the feelings of depression.  Talk with others about your feelings.

Panic Attacks are also a problem during these Cornona Virus times.

Try these tips:

  • Diaphragmatic breathing from your abdomen. Breathe in through your noise, hold to a count of two, then exhale through your mouth.
  • Write about your fears with pen and paper (research shows this is more helpful than typing) and identify exactly what you are afraid of. Then, identify how likely these fears will come true. What can you do to be proactive in this area? A good thorough plan helps to diminish anxiety and panic attacks.
  • Get exercise and eat healthy natural food! This is the best natural antidepressant and anti-anxiety behavior.
  • Make sure you get enough sleep or at least rest in bed if you cannot sleep.
  • Go outside in a socially appropriate way, (assuming your doctor has not told you that it is unsafe) and get some fresh air. Staying inside for days at a time causes more anxiety and depression.
  • Remind yourself that life is going to return to normal—eventually.