The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically affected the world in many ways. Many people lost their businesses or job. Health care workers are exhausted.
Hospitals are overwhelmed. Anxiety and depression rates are skyrocketing. The saddest part is when loved ones succumb to COVID-19.
This is a frightening time. Who knows what can happen tomorrow? Will this ever end? The whole world is getting anxious, resulting in mental health conditions being one of the main concerns.
The uncertainty of tomorrow is causing anxiety to many people worldwide. We may not know what tomorrow might bring, as there are many things that are out of our control.
You can, however, take control of your anxiety and fears. You can do your part in stopping the spread, protecting your health, and ensuring your family is safe.
Pandemic-Related Anxiety or COVID-19 Anxiety Syndrome
The term COVID-19 anxiety syndrome, otherwise known as pandemic-related anxiety, was first coined in the UK. COVID-19 anxiety syndrome is the fear of contracting the coronavirus. A person excessively worries about contracting the disease and therefore avoids public places. This happens even though they don’t live in high-risk areas with a surging number of cases.
Yes, staying at home, getting vaccinated, and avoiding big crowds are preventive measures to protect you and your family’s health. But if you excessively worry and it starts affecting your everyday functioning, then you may already have an anxiety disorder.
People who experience COVID-19-related anxiety may manifest symptoms of mental health problems. Some may be stressed, depressed, and experience physical health problems and panic attacks, while some may have suicidal thoughts.
Yes, the COVID-19 pandemic is worrying, but do not let it affect your everyday life. We must learn how to continue with our lives and find what’s positive in this situation.
The silver lining? We get to spend time with our family and appreciate what matters most.
COVID-19 Anxiety Syndrome Contributing Factors
Frontiers in Psychology reported that many contributing factors add to the stress of COVID-19-related anxiety. These may depend on a person’s behavioral health toward the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some of them:
1. Poor Tolerance to Uncertainty
We all have different tolerance levels when it comes to psychological stress. It’s going to be different for everyone because not everyone is blessed financially. Not everyone has the same coping mechanism, either.
Indeed, not everyone had a scare or lost a loved one due to COVID-19. Some have poor tolerance for uncertainty, particularly when they’re used to taking control of every aspect of their life.
Hypochondria is an anxiety disorder where a person excessively worries about having an illness. A COVID-19 hypochondriac may always self-diagnose, google their symptoms, and may declare having a physical symptom even though it’s not there.
Although being aware and mindful of COVID-19 symptoms is essential, worrying excessively to the point that it causes anxiety is not healthy.
3. News Coverage and Social Media
Yes, we need to be updated on the latest news about COVID-19. But watching the news or seeing social media posts all the time can ultimately cause anxiety.
Both can contribute to COVID-related anxiety. Make sure to limit your time watching the news, only read information from reputable sources, and don’t believe anything you see on social media. Not limiting your online activity will just cause further anxiety.
4. The Use of Fear to Promote Compliance
Research shows that the government and healthcare industries use fear to promote compliance among the public. Although this is an effective strategy for the public to comply, it may cause anxiety as well.
The news constantly reports data about the crisis, including the number of deaths or how hospitals are overflowing with patients to inflict fear. For your part, lessen your time watching the news, and don’t worry too much. As long as you’re taking precautions like social distancing, getting vaccinated, boosting your immune system, and sanitizing your hands, you’re going to be okay.
Symptoms of Anxiety
When the pandemic started, 4 out of 10 adults in the US reported symptoms related to anxiety and depression. This may be caused by pandemic-related stress, such as job loss, sick loved ones, or isolation. Some of the symptoms of anxiety caused by this pandemic are:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Changes in eating patterns
- Increased alcohol consumption (substance abuse disorder)
- Excessive worrying
- Feelings of agitation
- Difficulty concentrating
These symptoms of anxiety may be an indication of the presence of a mental health disorder. Generalized anxiety disorder is disabling and can affect your ability to do everyday tasks, be it at home, work, or school.
Always take care of your mental health and stop worrying too much. If it helps, talk to an online mental health counselor so you won’t need to leave your home.
Tips to Overcome COVID-19 Anxiety Syndrome
You do not have control of what’s happening in the world, but you can do your part to stop the spread. Most importantly, you can take charge of your life and your mental health. If you developed anxiety or panic attacks when this pandemic started, here are some tips you can follow to overcome your excessive worrying:
1. Lessen Your Media Exposure
Yes, you have to stay informed, but you don’t have to obsessively check the news. This may have negative impacts on your psychological state.
Also, be careful of the news circulating as there is plenty of misinformation out there. Do your part, and don’t cause others to panic as well. Do not share fake news.
Limit your time checking social media updates and watching the news. If you’re aware that watching the news fuels your anxiety, then it’s time to limit watching the news. If checking your social media account causes you to stress out, turn off your phone and do something else that’s productive.
2. Focus on What You Can Control
It’s tough to accept that you can’t control the duration of this pandemic. Seeking answers to the unknown may get you nowhere. This will just cause you to feel drained, tired, overwhelmed, stressed, or anxious.
In these uncertain times, you can test your resilience and focus on the things you can control. What can you do at this moment? Stop the spread, protect yourself and your family, and follow the health protocols mandated by the government.
Follow these tips to help you stop worrying:
- Frequently wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or sanitize your hands all the time with alcohol.
- Always wear a mask and practice physical distancing when going out.
- Avoid big crowds if you can.
- Avoid touching your mouth, eyes, and nose when outside.
- Avoid touching surfaces in public places; if this cannot be avoided, sanitize your hands.
- Stay at home as much as possible. Go out only for necessary tasks.
- Take care of your immune system.
- For older adults who have comorbidities, avoid going out.
- Follow public health policies from the government.
3. Stay Connected with Loved Ones
There are still travel restrictions now, as traveling can be risky. Visiting your family and loved ones may also not be possible this time. But this should not hinder you from connecting to them. Stay connected with the most important people in your life through instant messaging, phone calls, and video calls.
Staying connected with your loved ones is a vitamin for your mental health. Do not let coronavirus affect your relationships with friends and family. We can now see baby showers posted live on Facebook or Zoom conferences for birthdays. You can do this as well.
Also, don’t forget to check up on your loved ones. We may not know what they’re going through, and your phone call might be what they just need for their mental health.
Connecting with your loved ones eases your anxiety and theirs as well. Knowing that they’re okay gives you peace of mind, so you won’t have to worry so much.
4. Take Care of Your Physical and Mental Health
This pandemic is surely a trying time. Due to the outbreak, gyms are closed, traveling is risky, and social gatherings are prohibited.
Even though there are restrictions, this must not stop you from taking care of your physical and mental health. Here are some tips you can do to manage your stress and anxiety:
- If you’re stuck at home, establish a daily routine. Have a regular sleep, work, meal, or school schedule. This helps you to have a sense of normalcy, which is crucial to your mental health.
- If you have young children who can’t visit the park or play with friends, prepare activities at home that they can enjoy. Get a dog, introduce a new fun activity like drawing, and of course, don’t forget to bond with your young children. Do not allow them to play with their mobile phones the whole day.
- Do activities you enjoy like reading a good book, cooking, gardening, or craft-making. Instead of watching the news or spending too much time on Facebook, entertain yourself so you won’t have to worry too much. Doing the things you love is good for your mental health.
- Take care of your physical health. Always make it a priority to take care of your physical health. This way, you’re boosting your immune system to fight off any virus. Get enough sleep, drink vitamins, exercise, and eat healthy meals.
5. Consider Online Mental Health Counseling
If you think your pandemic-related anxiety is taking a toll on you or you may have depression due to isolation, consider online mental health counseling. Get the support you need by talking to a therapist or counselor at Kentucky Counseling Center (KCC).
If you have COVID-19 anxiety syndrome, you can benefit from talking to a mental health care professional so you can sort out your feelings or emotions. You can benefit from behavioral therapy to treat anxiety or depression.
Do not let stress or depression cause you to get sick because this can affect your daily life. Book an appointment at KCC Direct Services now to help you deal with pandemic-related anxiety and stress.