Managing COVID-19 Anxiety
It's OK that you are feeling anxious!
We are in the middle of a unique crisis - our daily lives have been disrupted and we aren't sure what the next day may bring.
You're not alone and anxiety is a normal response.
Acknowledge your feelings
Acknowledging your feelings, even if they're scary, can help you cope in a healthy way.
Anxiety can manifest in a variety of ways, but some common symptoms include:
- Excessive and intrusive worry, restlessness, tension, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and/or trouble sleeping.
Checking in with kids - when kids are feeling anxious, it may or may not be clear to parents. Anxiety could look like:
- Reassurance seeking, reluctance to separate from caregivers, physical symptoms like headaches or stomach aches, irritability, tantrums or meltdowns, and/or trouble sleeping.
Techniques to help manage anxiety
Stay informed, but do not obsessively check the news.
- It is vital to stay informed, particularly about what is happening in your community; but there's a lot of misinformation going around. Being informed is one thing, being overexposed is another.
- Stick to trustworthy sources such as CDC, the World Health Organization, and your local public health authorities.
- Limit how often you check for updates.
- Consider putting a limit on the number of articles you read or for how long you will watch news about coronavirus each day.
- Step away from (social) media if you start to feel overwhelmed.
Focus on what you're doing right now.
- Stay focused on what's happening now rather than what might happen later on.
- If you start to feel yourself spin into negativity or panic, grounding yourself in the present can stop that spiral:
- Bring your attention to your breath and your body. Focus all of your attention on the here and now: noticing sights, sounds, smells, and what you are feeling in your body. Continue to breath slowly in and out - gently bringing your mind back to your body and breath every time it drifts - until you feel more calm.
- There are countless free meditation, grounding, and mindfulness resources online, here is one:
Rely on routines
- Establishing a routine that involves regular meals, exercise, and a regular sleep schedule is crucial to regulating our worries and moods.
Make it a priority to stay in touch with friends and family
- Think about scheduling regular phone, chat, or skype/zoom dates to stay social.
Take time for activities you enjoy
- Read a book, watch a comedy, play board games, etc.
Modeling appropriate self-care, positive thinking, and anxiety coping strategies can be the key to help children handle their own anxiety and worries - children copy behaviors of their caregivers!
Reach out to talk to a professional if your anxiety becomes unmanageable.