Ever since coronavirus first entered our minds in late 2019, we have been living under its shadow. From the initial reports of a few cases in Wuhan, China to the global pandemic it has become, COVID-19 has taken over much of our internal and external lives. Through our constant interaction with social media, the internet, and other ways we stay connected, most of us are totally inundated with news, conversations, and debates over the virus and how to best keep ourselves safe.
While some of us may be able to weather this unending storm of stressful, often negative information, this level of attention can lead to anxiety and even panic attacks. If you are one of those people struggling with COVID-19 anxiety, be assured that you aren’t alone. Here is some information on how to cope with your anxiety.
Where Does My Anxiety Come From?
Anxiety, at its most basic level, is a fear response caused by external triggers. The “fight or flight” instinct, which you may already be familiar with, is essentially the root of anxiety. Whenever you experience a threatening or stressful event, your perception of the event triggers the sympathetic nervous system, creating an acute stress response that causes the body to either fight the threat or run away.
In the past, our ancestors needed this “fight or flight” response when in the presence of potentially existential threats like predators. This helped them stay alert and fearful so that they could muster the appropriate motivation and adrenaline to escape dangerous situations.
We still need this “fight or flight” response to survive today: Things like car crashes, finding ourselves in unsafe physical spaces, or even verbal altercations elicit this same response so that we can be alert and react accordingly.
The problem comes when this response is triggered in situations where it is neither practical nor logical to feel nervous and fearful. Anxiety intensifies when our brain sends signals to feel fear even when it is detrimental to our well-being, and an anxiety disorder is when this happens so regularly that a person may feel constantly triggered — even in the absence of any real threat.
Why Does COVID-19 Elicit Anxiety?
COVID-19 can trigger anxiety in both healthy individuals and individuals with a pre-existing anxiety disorder. The following are some of the perceived threats COVID-19 presents that cause these feelings of anxiety.
Fear of Death or Illness
This is probably the most obvious fear that comes with COVID-19. The idea of death or illness terrifies many people – understandably so. This virus has already killed millions of people and many of us are fearful that it will affect ourselves or our loved ones, regardless of the low odds.
Fear of the Unknown
The COVID-19 pandemic is a once-in-a-century event, so no one really knows how to deal with it. In spite of more than 2 years of medical study, much of the information we know about COVID-19 is still emerging. We’re still not entirely sure how it works, what its effects are in the long-term or short-term, or the best way to effectively fight against it. We simply don’t have all the answers to our questions, and this can be scary.
Loss of Control
In a world where we are used to being able to control our environment, our routines, and our interactions, COVID-19 has introduced an overwhelming amount of uncertainty. For some people, this can be triggering because it feels like we are being forced into a situation in which we have no power or authority.
Lack of Certainty
We don’t know when this pandemic will end or what the long-term effects will be, and that can be scary. We like to be certain what is going on in our lives, and when there are large gaps in that knowledge, it creates unease and distress.
What Can I Do To Start Coping With Covid Anxiety?
Anxiety is difficult because, in many cases, the fears that trigger anxiety are valid. It’s just not very helpful or constructive to feel anxious about those fears, especially because they’re often related to things that are outside of our control. If you’re struggling with feelings of stress, fear, and nervousness, there are several things that you can do to help yourself feel better and begin coping with Covid anxiety.
Recognize That Your Feelings Are Valid
Many people struggle with feeling distressed while knowing logically that they have no reason to be anxious. When this happens, it’s essential to understand that your feelings are valid. Just because you can’t control the cause of your anxiety doesn’t mean that you’re wrong to feel afraid or panicked. It’s important to validate and accept your feelings, even if they are uncomfortable.
Talk to Someone About Your Anxiety
While this may not be helpful for everyone, for some people it can be beneficial to talk about your anxiety with a trusted confidant. This could be a friend, family member, therapist, or anyone else that you feel comfortable with. When we keep our fears and anxieties bottled up inside, they tend to fester and grow. Talking openly about them often helps to lessen their power.
Challenge Your Negative Thoughts
When we’re feeling anxious, our thoughts can often turn negative and irrational. One way to help combat this is to challenge those thoughts. When you catch yourself having a negative thought about COVID-19, ask yourself whether or not that thought is helpful or constructive. Is it actually going to do anything to help you? More often than not, the answer will be no. By challenging your thoughts, you can start to break the power they have over you.
Focus On What You Can Control
One of the best ways to cope with anxiety is to focus on what you can control. This may include things like your daily routine, your diet, your coping strategies, or how you take care of yourself. When we focus on what we can’t control, it often exacerbates the problem. But when we focus on what we can control, it gives us a sense of power and agency.
Develop a Reliable Grounding Exercise
When we’re feeling anxious, it’s often beneficial to have a grounding exercise that we can rely on. This could be something like deep breathing, meditating, journaling, listening to music, practicing yoga, or any other activity that helps you to feel calm and centered. Having a grounding exercise that you can turn to in times of need makes it much easier to manage your anxiety.
Try Ketamine Infusions
Ketamine therapy can be an effective treatment for anxiety, and it’s something that our team at NY Ketamine Infusions specializes in. Our ketamine infusions block glutamate, a neurotransmitter involved in feelings of anxiety and depression. It also stimulates brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is vital for regulating mood and emotion. You can learn more about how this works on our website.
If you’re struggling with anxiety, we encourage you to reach out to us. We would be more than happy to help you find the relief and peace of mind that you deserve.