The COVID-19 pandemic has largely defined 2020 in a way that no one could have anticipated just one short year ago.
For many people, especially those that are younger, the pandemic marks the first global health crisis that they have experienced during their lifetime.
Between hearing conflicting information, being confined to our homes, being thrust out of routines, and possibly experiencing unemployment or changes in income, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everyone’s life in some way or another, especially when it comes to mental and emotional health.
If you’re experiencing anxiety during these trying times, we’ve got your complete guide to how to reduce anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Arm Yourself with Facts
Information can sometimes cause more anxiety. After all, if you are constantly hearing about rising case numbers and hospitalizations, it’s difficult to ignore growing concerns about the pandemic as the days go by.
However, facts can also be your friend. By reading up on what the symptoms of the disease are, how to socially distance and keep yourself safe, where to go, and what to do if you suspect that you are sick, you’ll have a game plan in place in the event that your health becomes a pressing concern.
Look online for testing locations and know their requirements before you need them so that you can put together a COVID-19 contingency plan. Many people find that preparing in advance helps them to feel more equipped to handle a difficult situation in the future.
Turn Off the TV
With that said, there is such a thing as too much information. If rising case counts in your county or city are making you increasingly anxious and negatively impacting your mental health, turn off the TV and stop refreshing the news app on your phone every time you unlock your screen.
Ultimately, information about grim statistics won’t actually keep you safe. Only social distancing, mask wearing, and being diligent about keeping the virus at bay can protect you.
If you find the news or social media upsetting, schedule breaks into your day where you completely unplug.
Take Care of Your Body
Taking good care of yourself physically can have major benefits from a mental health standpoint.
Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources helps to address any potential nutritional deficiencies that could be contributing to anxiety symptoms.
Exercising regularly, such as going for a brisk walk, doing yoga, or doing a bodyweight strength workout from the safety of your living room not only helps keep your energy levels up and gets you into shape, but it also releases endorphins that can help improve your mood and reduce anxiety.
It’s important to stay away from drinking too much alcohol, because while alcohol acts as a central nervous system depressant that can help you relax in the short term, it also negatively impacts your physical and mental health when used in excess.
Although it is easier said than done for many people, getting plenty of sleep each night also helps to reduce anxiousness in the morning and throughout your day.
Establish a Routine
One of the most difficult things for many people to cope with during the pandemic has been the loss of their normal routine. People who previously went to an office each day may be working from home, often with children who are also trying to adapt to a now-virtual routine.
Millions of people have lost their jobs or have seen their hours reduced, which changes their normal routine and adds financial stress on top of everything going on.
People whose childcare options have been eliminated due to school and daycare closures have had to find a way to work and help educate their children at the same time, and many feel that they are not doing either job to the best of their ability.
With the pandemic showing no signs of slowing down as 2021 approaches, it is time for people to begin establishing a routine that works for this “new normal.” That may mean speaking to your boss about working a more flexible schedule, or coordinating with other parents to form virtual study groups for children of similar ages. It is important to create arrangements you need to make the situation more tenable.
Others may simply need to stick to a simple routine that includes a set time to wake up and go to sleep, a daily workout, and time to both work and unwind. Establishing a routine can help people to feel more in control of their environment, often reducing anxiety.
Professional Help to Reduce Your Anxiety
Other people may need professional help to reduce their anxiety in addition to making the lifestyle changes mentioned above.
You have plenty of stress in your life already, and finding mental health services that are accessible and affordable shouldn’t add to that list of stressors.
YANA makes it easy to receive mental healthcare on your own terms, without the long waits, fear of judgment, and high cost associated with traditional, in-person mental health clinics and providers.
If you have tried to reduce your anxiety but still feel like you need more assistance, YANA can connect you to a doctor who will perform an initial evaluation of what you’re feeling. Based on that evaluation, you and your doctor will form a personalized treatment plan, which may include prescription medication. If applicable, your medication is delivered straight to your door for one low monthly price that includes regular check-ins with your doctor, care coordination, and support.