A pandemic is defined as a disease that is prevalent around the world, meaning that it affects everyone on a global scale. However, a pandemic can affect certain individuals more than others – and not only regarding the risk of contracting the disease but also with anxiety.
COVID-19 has introduced a season of panic and ill health. Various governments have responded by imposing restrictions, and “life as we know it” has taken a dramatic shift.
This uncertain environment can be a trigger for those prone to anxiety. Mental health counseling can be a great help in alleviating this anxiety and improve coping methods.
Introduction Of A Pandemic
There are subtle differences between an epidemic and a pandemic. An epidemic is an actively spreading disease that has grown out of control. A pandemic is an epidemic that has grown to become a global problem that affects an entire country or the world.
There have been several pandemics over the years. Some of the most notable being the Spanish Flu in 1918, Smallpox pandemic that was eradicated in 1980, and now COVID-19.
The current pandemic has altered the experience of “normal life” in more ways than one. For many people, the new norm includes intense feelings of anxiety and panic for a number of different reasons.
Is Anxiety Normal?
Feelings of anxiety during a pandemic are completely normal. If you or a loved one are experiencing these waves of anxiety, understand that you are not alone – and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Reasons For Pandemic-Induced Anxiety
The global spread of an infectious disease can introduce anxiety for a number of reasons.
First, it can develop out of fear for one’s health. An infectious disease can leave many people vulnerable and this risk can trigger anxiety.
Another cause of anxiety is the change in sleeping patterns or the difficulty of falling asleep that comes with the disruption of a normal routine. Existing health problems can also worsen and financial pressures due to job loss (or reduction) can contribute to added stress.
How It Manifests During A Pandemic
Anxiety can be revealed in a variety of ways, including physical, emotional, and mental symptoms.
Certain physical sensations, such as an increased heart rate, sweating, tight muscles, and gastrointestinal distress are all symptoms of anxiety.
Restlessness and insomnia are also synonymous with it. Unfortunately, the less sleep you experience, the more the anxiety increases.
When experiencing anxiety, certain emotions can be intensified. It can shorten one’s fuse and increase irritability and frustration.
It can also rob you of your mental focus and ability to be productive. All-consuming thoughts of panic can dictate where your mental energy is directed. This can further result in forgetfulness and lack of perspective.
Managing Anxiety During a Pandemic
It’s important to understand that it is a very normal reaction to stressful situations such as a pandemic. Anxiety and fear are a natural element to the survival instinct. The key to living with it is learning to manage it.
By normalizing anxiety, it becomes a manageable situation. With this in mind, here are a few ways to help.
- Be compassionate with yourself. You are not alone in struggling with anxiety.
- Understand that some days will be more difficult than others – so be patient with yourself on your down days.
- Identify key phrases or practices that can calm you during moments of stress. Whether this is meditation, journaling, or even knitting.
- Stay connected virtually. Technology allows you to maintain connection and community during times of isolation.
- Establish a new routine that includes self-care habits and basic exercise.
Another way to cope is to get external help. Whether this is talking to a friend or family member, or to a professional mental health counselor.
Get Professional Help
At Fifth Street Counseling Center, we understand the struggles of anxiety during these troubling times. We’ve found a solution to continue our mental health service offerings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you’re struggling and need the help of a professional, then you can book a session online. Alternatively, if you want to find out more about how to be mentally healthy during the pandemic, then you can call us at (954)797-5222. Together, we can get through this difficult time.