Activities we once considered routine became unsafe. As guidelines and protocols shift, it can be difficult to determine what you're comfortable with.
All that unease can manifest in COVID Anxiety: extreme worries about COVID transmission or returning to normal activities during the COVID pandemic.
COVID anxiety can be overwhelming, but having solid coping strategies to lean on can help you move forward comfortably.
Chances are, you've heard of regular anxiety before: that intense worried, nervous on-edge feeling. When you're anxious, you may also feel physical symptoms like racing heart, shortness of breath, or shaking.
It's normal to get anxious sometimes - almost everyone has anxiety strike in a high-stakes situation, like a job interview or important test at school.
Anxiety becomes more of a problem when it becomes incessant, appearing even around normal everyday activities. People who experience routine anxiety may have anxiety disorders, like Generalized Anxiety Disorder or Panic Disorder.
As you might have guessed, COVID Anxiety is anxiety specifically caused by or related to the COVID pandemic.
Because COVID-19 is so dangerous and transmissible, we were forced to change everything about our lives and daily routines to avoid contact with others. Lockdowns kept people at home instead of at work, at stores and businesses, or out socializing with friends.
In the early days of COVID-19, even something so innocuous as having a cup of coffee at a cafe could be life threatening for yourself and your household.
Now that vaccines and treatments are more widely available, some communities have lifted restrictions so that some normal activities can resume.
However, many people have had a hard time letting go of the feeling of danger when going out in public around other people. Changing guidelines and emergence of variants have exacerbated feelings of uncertainty around personal safety.
Common signs of COVID Anxiety include:
If you think you may have COVID anxiety, you aren't alone: a study showed that 43% of adults surveyed reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorders during the COVID pandemic in 2020 versus 11% in 2019.
COVID anxiety can feel debilitating. Luckily, there are effective coping strategies to help you manage your feelings of anxiety around COVID.
The essential first step to coping with anxiety of any kind is to accept your anxiety. To do so, you need to give yourself empathy and understand where the anxiety comes from.
Remember, COVID anxiety stems from wanting to keep yourself and your loved ones safe and healthy. At one point in time, the anxious behaviors you have now helped you stay safe. Protecting yourself can be a good thing - just not when you take it too far and consume you.
The COVID pandemic has proved to be an ever-changing situation, as the state of the virus changes and our information about it increases. It's okay to be skeptical or worried when restrictions change - our mindset can't always change overnight.
Allow yourself to start small and take things slow when it comes to loosened restrictions if that's what you need. For example, if going to a party feels like too much, start with a public outdoor restaurant.
Mindful activities like journaling can go a long way with COVID anxiety just like they do with regular anxiety by helping you boost your self-awareness and cope with negative thoughts.
Daily journaling with a journaling app like Jour can help you identify negative thought patterns associated with anxiety and work through them, bringing your emotions back to a baseline calm.
COVID can be unpredictable. Even when we do all the right things and follow guidelines, sometimes we can get just plain unlucky. Taking time to prepare ahead for the worst case scenario can make it feel less scary.
For example, knowing where to go for a COVID test, where you would isolate in your home, or keeping some extra groceries stocked can make you feel prepared to deal with an unexpected COVID scare.
At the end of the day, only you can dictate what you're comfortable with at any given moment in time. Don't be afraid to set boundaries with others according to your comfort level and suggest alternatives that feel safe to you.
Also make sure to set boundaries with yourself particularly around time spent on social media and news consumption, which can contribute to anxiety.
Anxiety is an intense feeling of worry, uncertainty, or even panic around situations that feel in some way threatening.
The risks associated with socializing during the COVID pandemic has increased feelings of anxiety for many people. If you experience a lot of anxiety about COVID transmission or returning to normal activities after COVID, you may be experiencing COVID Anxiety.
Though COVID Anxiety can be overwhelming, coping strategies can help you feel more at ease. Taking the time to understand your anxiety and practice mindfulness through calming activities like journaling can be especially effective.
And don't forget: Jour is always here for you when you're needing a little extra calm in your day.