Coping with Anxiety During COVID-19
“I can’t stop worrying about what could happen.” That is a phrase I hear often from my clients, as I specialize in treating anxiety. During this time of pandemic and “stay-at-home” orders, many are struggling with worry thoughts.
Some fears I am hearing are:
- Contracting the virus
- The unknown future- when will things be “normal” again?
- Will I be able to pay my bills?
- What if I get laid off?
- When will I be able to go back to work?
These questions can and certainly do generate fear. I recognize and validate that for my clients. However, I always remind them that anxiety is about something that may or may not happen, or about something that has happened which we regret or about which we feel badly. These thoughts take us out of the present moment.
COVID-19 or no COVID-19, we never know what will happen, ever.
Why does not knowing have to produce worry?
Worrying is never helpful. Planning, preparing, and focusing on what we can control is helpful. We cannot be present if we are worrying. Being present does not mean we do not care about what might happen. Rather, it allows us the opportunity to focus on what matters most at this moment, i.e., self-care, caring for others, being with family, appreciating the sunset, etc. If we are constantly worrying we are creating unnecessary stress which negatively affects us physically, mentally, and emotionally.
One way to manage worrying thoughts is to make a list of you worries.
- Which of those worries you can control?
- What Can you do about it?
- What can you tell yourself that would be more helpful?
- Worry thought-What if I get the virus?
- Questions to ask-What can I do to prevent this in the first place?
Look at the facts
- What are the odds of getting the virus and actually getting sick?
- If I were to get the virus, what is my plan?
- Helpful thoughts- I am healthy
- I am grateful for my health.
- I will focus on what I can control.
The questions above do not require worrying. They require focusing on thinking more rationally to look at facts, take precautions and plan. In addition to examining and changing our thoughts through CBT, as a therapist, I teach clients about the mind-body connection and ways to decrease anxiety through deep breathing, physical activity, adequate self-care, etc.
These are challenging, anxious times for many. If you find you need more help to manage your anxiety, I am available for teletherapy sessions. We are in this together. I am here to help.