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Woman talking to friends and family about her anxiety

Coping With Anxiety During Social Distancing and COVID-19

Anxiety is a normal human emotion and a little bit of that anxiety is necessary for us to be able to take care of what we need to take care of.

For example, if I don’t have any anxiety, or if I have only a little anxiety, I wouldn’t take necessary precautions to decrease the chance of me contracting the Coronavirus or any other infection.

But when anxiety exceeds a certain limit it, it can become counterproductive and if it gets to a very high level it can become disabling and keep us from completing even simple tasks.

What Can I Do To Cope With Anxiety?

We utilize adaptive coping skills which means that what works for you could be different from what works for me. However, generally speaking there are common strategies that work for a lot of people.

7 Strategies That Can Help You Cope With Anxiety Are:

  1. Ventilating your emotions through verbalization to someone you trust like a family member, or friend. Or, you can ventilate through written language by writing down your thoughts and emotions.
  2. Physical exercise. Research shows that physical exercise could be just as effective as medications for helping anxiety.
  3. Practice a hobby and find ways to enjoy it while practicing social distancing.
  4. Think positively. If you think about it, there are no negative experiences that don’t have positive sides to them. That’s why focusing on the positive side of any negative experience, can help reduce anxiety.
  5. If you are a religious person, try praying or talking to a religious figure.
  6. Accept or reject responsibility of any negative situation that you find yourself in.
  7. Seek professional help if your anxiety is out of control.

There are so many other ways of dealing with anxiety, and it is really helpful for everyone to explore their options and see what works for them.

How Can People Avoid Panic?

It’s really important to have accurate knowledge. During times like this, it’s very common to have all kinds of rumors and exaggerations that can contribute to exaggerated anxiety and panic.

It is also important to have reliable sources of information. However, another obstacle is that it can be really difficult when everyone around you is getting anxious because emotions are infectious. When everyone around you is reacting in a specific way you might feel under pressure to do the same.

It is important to maintain calmness and to try to think of what you need to do that can be helpful.

Some Ways You Can Control Panic Are By:

  • Focusing on taking care of yourself.
  • Coping with anxiety by controlling it.
  • Doing something positive, for the community, or others.

How To Stay Connected While Social Distancing

With a lot of people out of work and social distancing, people may begin to lack the structure they need to get activities done that are important for a healthy mind and body. Therefore, it’s important to have activities that are productive and meaningful.

If you could do anything at home, try to do it. Whether its work related or not work related, again hobbies that you could practice at home. A lot of us live with families or people and we should try to engage in social interactions with these people.

In this age, after decades of having a lot of media resources, people who live together don’t interact anymore. Therefore, a positive side of this negative experience is that you now have the time to re-explore and strengthen those relationships.

Also, please remember that while social distancing you could find yourself at risk of engaging in activities that are not good for you. For example, watching a lot of T.V. or wasting time doing activities that are not very healthy. The best thing to do is to try to avoid those activities, if possible.

For more resources and information surrounding COVID-19, please visit the CHI Health Coronavirus page.

If you need to speak further on questions, reach out to a CHI Health Behavioral Health provider. 

Imad Alsakaf, MD
Imad Alsakaf, MD

Imad Alsakaf, MD is a Psychiatrist at CHI Health.

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