COVID-19 has given us that in spades! The coronavirus pandemic has made a very uncertain future for most of us. People worry about their own health and the health of their loved ones. There are concerns around school or work, their finances, their ability to take part in important community and social events and hobbies. There is also the effect of isolation and loneliness. People who may have already experienced anxiety are finding their situation getting worse and people who have never felt anxious before may now be facing a new reality.
First of all, it is important to be kind to yourself. Cut yourself a little bit of slack. This is an anxious and stressful time for everyone and it’s okay if you feel more anxious than usual, and it’s okay to take time for yourself to manage your mental health. You are doing the best you can in a time when simply turning on the news can feel overwhelming.
While anxiety and stress are normal reactions to the pandemic, too much anxiety can start to cause harm. Over time there can be negative mental and physical effects. It may become hard to relax or to get the normal amount of restful sleep. It can affect eating habits. It can worsen the symptoms of existing chronic health problems, including mental health problems. It can also lead to increased use of substances such as tobacco, alcohol and other drugs which can have a detrimental effect on our health.
So what can we do to control our anxiety?
- Try not to avoid, ignore or suppress anxious thoughts. Try to keep things in perspective; notice and challenge your thoughts that may be extreme or unhelpful.
- Lean on social support. Stay connected. Social connection is an important determinant of health for human beings. “Physical distancing”—not “social distancing.”
- Try to get enough sleep.
- Follow healthy eating habits.
- Exercise and engage in enjoyable activities.
- Cut back the amount of time spent on social media and the news. Seek information from reliable sources and limit consumption.
- Control what you can—keep your focus on factors within your control and let the rest go.
- Help others if you can. It helps to take our focus off of our own anxieties.
- Most important, don’t be ashamed to reach out for help if you need it. This is a difficult time and it’s okay to need help.
For more information, visit www.sk.cmha.ca.
For help coping with your anxiety visit www.cmha.ca/bounceback — an online, self-guided cognitive behavioral therapy program for mild to moderate anxiety and depression that can be tailored to your needs
and which also provides the support of a Bounce Back Coach.