The COVID19 pandemic has impacted most people around the world in some way or another. Even if you have been lucky enough to dodge catching the coronavirus itself, chances are that it might have had an impact on your life in another way. Whether you’ve suffered from loneliness and feeling isolated from friends and family throughout the lockdowns and periods of staying at home, have been increasingly anxious about catching the virus or passing it on to a vulnerable loved one, or simply feel down and miserable due to all the doom and gloom that has been on the news throughout the pandemic with rising infections and deaths, you are not alone. From job losses and financial difficulties to health worries and being isolated from loved ones, COVID19 has impacted much more than simply our respiratory health.
Anxiety is one of the most common conditions that is being reported as a result of the pandemic. This condition can be debilitating, leaving those who suffer from it constantly questioning everything that they do, or what they experience. In some cases, anxiety can be a condition where you don’t get much relief from feeling an impending sense of doom all the time or feeling like you have to constantly be prepared for something to go wrong and the worst to happen.
Anxiety is quite a normal response in the body and mind to frightening situations, so it’s to be expected when there is a global pandemic. Most of us will feel anxiety from time to time, and in a mentally healthy person, it can be quite useful for protecting us. However, it can become a serious disorder when it starts to become more harmful than helpful.
Throughout the pandemic, anxiety probably protected you from harm or illness by urging you to use hand sanitizer after touching public surfaces or to get home deliveries instead of going to the store. However, if it’s started to become a problem where your worries are constantly on your mind or holding you back in life, it might be time to consider asking for help and support.
What Does COVID19 Related Anxiety Feel Like?
The COVID19 pandemic has led to an increase in many different types of anxiety. It may have worsened anxiety levels in people who were already struggling with this condition, or have led to specific types of anxiety such as social anxiety, job anxiety, or health anxiety that were not present in the individual pre-pandemic. Anxiety can also develop in people who have not been affected personally by the pandemic but are witnesses to what is going on around them, bringing on the anxious feelings and thoughts that it could be them who is impacted by COVID19 next.
Symptoms of anxiety can vary between different people and can be both mental and physical. Worrying a lot, especially about things that would not have normally worried you in the past or are even generally considered to be safe, is one major symptom. Trouble sleeping due to racing thoughts, breathlessness, irritability, sleeping too much, feeling numb, stomach aches, headaches, jaw clenching, and tense muscles are just some of the common signs and symptoms to look out for.
How Anxiety Can Impact Your Life:
Anxiety doesn’t just have an impact on your health and wellbeing – it can spill over into many other aspects of your life, including your employment, family life, and personal relationships. Somebody with anxiety might suffer even more worrisome thoughts that they are a bother or a burden to the people that they are close with. They may require more reassurance, which can sometimes lead to problems at work or in the home if the people around them do not understand what they are going through.
Sometimes, anxiety can leave somebody unable to feel safe around anybody, even if it is a person that they previously trusted and felt comfortable with. It can lead to feelings and thoughts that the people in the person’s life are not going to be able to help or protect them if needed, or even worse, that people are actively out to get them or working against them, which can put a huge amount of strain on any type of personal or even professional relationship.
People who are suffering from anxiety as a result of the COVID19 pandemic might also find that it has an impact on their job. This is especially true for people who are working in industries or companies that have been particularly hard-hit by COVID19 and are worried about their job stability or security. It’s normal to feel anxious if the people around you are losing their jobs at a rapid rate, but if it’s beginning to take over your life or affect your work performance, it can be a sign of an even bigger problem.
How to Get Help if You Are Struggling:
The good news is that if you are struggling with anxiety as a result of the pandemic, you do not have to go through it alone. There are lots of options available to people who need help including support helplines, counseling, and therapy, and even residential treatments if you feel that you will benefit from such a program. In addition, you can also employ a lot of self-help tactics that might help to lower your stress and anxiety levels and help you feel more in control. Mindfulness meditation, healthy eating, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep might not cure you of anxiety, but they can help by putting you back in control over your life and giving you healthier habits to focus on instead.
If you are struggling, you might want to start by reaching out to a family member or friend that you trust. They may be able to offer emotional and practical support and help you with the often overwhelming task of finding and asking for professional help. Your primary care doctor will also be able to help you by referring you to mental health treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy or prescribing medication that will help you stay calm.
Online therapy is another option for getting help with anxiety that an increasing number of people have turned to during the pandemic. Services like BetterHelp have become more and more popular as an option for speaking to a trained mental health counselor during a time where face-to-face appointments might not always feel like the safest option. If you feel safer doing so, you can access help from the comfort of your own home using online counseling services. These are usually covered by health insurance companies as long as you are accessing counseling from a therapist who is licensed to practice in your state.
How to Help Others Affected by COVID19 Anxiety:
If you are concerned about the increase in anxiety levels in the population due to the COVID19 pandemic and want to help, the good news is that there are lots of voluntary and paid opportunities to consider. You might want to consider changing careers so that you can work in an area where you’re helping people with their mental health or volunteer your time. The truth is that with around half of people around the world reporting that their mental health has been negatively impacted by the COVID crisis, empathetic, kind people with great listening skills are in increasingly high demand. Here are some of the main things that you can do if you want to help.
· Train as a Counselor:
While training as a mental health counselor with this MS counseling degree will take some time, it’s definitely a worthwhile investment to make in your future career if you are interested in working with people who are suffering from anxiety and helping them get back in control of their situation.
The anxiety levels that have been caused by the COVID19 pandemic are unlikely to completely subside once the pandemic is over since anxiety is a condition that can easily take hold in various other aspects of the patient’s life, even when the situation that caused the anxiety is long gone. As a mental health counselor, you will be qualified to help people with anxiety and various other aspects of their mental health. You can work with people of all ages and from a wide range of different backgrounds.
To succeed in this role, you will need to be empathetic, compassionate, and have good listening skills. A non-judgmental attitude and a commitment to constantly improving yourself are also key since you’re providing a safe space for people to confide their fears in you.
· Volunteer for a Helpline:
Volunteering for a mental health support helpline is an ideal way to spend your spare time if you want to help people whose mental health has been negatively impacted by the COVID19 pandemic. Since the start of the outbreak and the subsequent events over the past eighteen months, mental health and suicide prevention hotlines have reported a significant increase in the number of calls and texts that they have received from people who are feeling hopeless, worried, and scared, and simply need somebody to talk to and listen to their concerns.
Volunteering for a helpline can be an extremely rewarding way to spend your time and with every day that you work comes a chance to potentially save or improve somebody’s life.
· Help Your Family and Friends:
While it’s easy to imagine strangers that you’ve never met going through anxiety symptoms around the world when you look at the statistics, chances are that for most of us, it will start closer to home than we realize.
Check up on your family and friends and make sure that they know that they are able to turn to you if they’re struggling with mental health and increased anxiety levels as a result of the pandemic. Offer practical help where you can and be a listening ear for your loved ones who may be having a hard time as the result of the last eighteen months.
Bear in mind that anxiety can affect anybody, so don’t assume that simply because your loved one might not have been too negatively impacted in practical ways by the COVID19 pandemic that it hasn’t had an impact on their mental health. Anybody around you could be struggling in silence.
· Help Out in Your Community:
Community help has become much more important than ever before throughout the COVID19 pandemic. The crisis of the past eighteen months has disproportionately affected some groups of people, particularly those living in poverty and the homeless. Chances are that there are going to be people within your community who could use some extra support from a kind stranger like you.
Consider volunteering with community initiatives or simply reaching out to your neighbors to see if there is anything that they would like help with – even if it’s just to talk to somebody. This is especially true if you have elderly neighbors, with the elderly highly affected by the isolation necessary to reduce infection rates during the pandemic.
· Share Resources:
Sometimes people who are struggling with anxiety do not know where to start when it comes to getting help. One indirect but useful way that you can help others in your life who might be dealing with heightened symptoms of anxiety and stress as a result of the pandemic is to share resources. Social media is an ideal place to do this as it allows you to share information on getting help with anxiety and other mental health problems in a way that allows the people who need or want this information to take their own time to check it out.
The COVID19 pandemic has affected more than just our physical health. Mental health problems have become a pandemic of their own, with anxiety a serious concern for many people. If you are struggling with anxiety as a result of COVID19, there are various options to consider when it comes to getting help. There are also several different opportunities to consider for those who want to spend their time helping and supporting people suffering from anxiety right now.