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Did You Know You Can Navigate Your Anxiety?

Steven Losardo, AMFT 

You may be feeling a lot of apprehension about returning to work after months of working at home or unemployment while knowing we are still in the pandemic. You may be experiencing anxiety about what comes next for you. Feeling this way is common; anxiety has increased for many people during this time. One research study on Google trends discovered that more people have been searching for “worry” and “anxiety” as well as techniques to manage anxiety since the start of the pandemic. 

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is the body’s natural response to stressful situations. It’s the uncomfortable feeling of apprehension that bad things could happen or are currently happening. Anxiety is not just a mental process; when we have anxiety, we may experience increased heart rate, restlessness, shallow breathing, clenched jaw, or insomnia, to name a few. 

Anxiety is normal.

Everyone experiences anxiety to some degree. We are all vulnerable to it, and sometimes certain life situations can cause increases in anxiety. For example, quarantine and the COVID-19 pandemic have caused anxiety for many, some of whom have begun to struggle for the first time due to the stressors that have come along with the pandemic: money struggles, isolation, lack of employment, fear of the virus, and more. When people experience persistent anxiety, they may be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. 

Examples of anxiety disorders:

  •     Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
  •       Panic disorder
  •     Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  •     Phobias
  •     Social Anxiety Disorder

What is our responsibility in navigating anxiety?

Although we may not control the situation that is causing the anxiety, it is our responsibility to take care of ourselves to the extent that we can. This responsibility means taking note when our anxiety becomes overwhelming. Take a mental inventory of anxiety symptoms: Ask yourself: “Have I been leaving the house less, avoiding phone calls or other commitments, feeling nervous often?” and so on. Having an awareness of our symptoms will help us understand our anxiety triggers better. 

Be aware and move forward.

Some days anxiety can hold us back and keep us from moving forward. We all have good days and bad days, but staying hopeful is critical. You will not always feel as anxious as you may right now. It’s possible to get a better handle on your anxiety through a variety of methods.

Getting help for your anxiety:

  •     Therapy: Seek out treatment with an experienced counselor or therapist. There are several evidence-based therapies for anxiety, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Whether your anxiety is mild or severe, therapy can help you adapt to changes such as returning to work after quarantine.
  •     Support groups: Virtual support groups offer anxiety-management.
  •     Medications: There are medications used to treat anxiety, such as benzodiazepines and antidepressants.
  •     Self-help options: Mobile apps such as Headspace or Sanvello can provide meditation exercises and help you track mood.
  •     Break tasks down into smaller steps: This makes anxiety-producing situations more manageable and less daunting. For example: If you are nervous about wearing a mask for long periods at work, practice wearing it for 30 minutes at home. 

Anxiety can be a good thing!

Anxiety can work in your favor because it can be motivational. For example, nervousness about an upcoming exam may motivate you to study harder. Anxiety can also signal that we need to make a change in our lives or that something is not right, such as a failing relationship. Anxiety builds character and develops empathy to understand each other’s’ struggles better.  

There is hope for your anxiety!

As you can see, there are many positive steps you can take to reduce your anxiety. Anxiety itself is very normal. You are not alone in your anxiety. The pandemic has been a significant source of tremendous stress, but it won’t last forever. You have the tools to make changes to improve your anxiety. It will get better. 

References

Hundley, S. (2020). Retrieved from https://www.anxiety.org/what-is-cognitive-behavioral

therapy-cbt on March 30, 2021.

Huzar, T. (2020). Anxiety symptoms increased during the pandemic, Google Trends show.

Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/anxiety-symptoms

increased-during-the-pandemic-google-trends-show on March 30, 2021.

Legg, T. (2020). Everything you need to know about anxiety. Retrieved from

https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety#_noHeaderPrefixedContent on March 31,

2021.

Starr, K. (2020). The Benefits of Anxiety and Nervousness. Retrieved from

https://www.verywellmind.com/benefits-of-anxiety-2584134 on March 30, 2021.

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