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Confronting Corona: Mitigating Anxiety

Bridgette W. Gottwald, LPC, NCC

Feeling anxiety related to coronavirus, also known as COVID-19? Well, it’s safe to say that you’re not alone! There are so many things to be anxious about – catching the virus itself, adjusting to a new routine during quarantine, financial burdens, school closures, cancelled events, and many other things floating around on the media. Anxiety related to this virus has seemingly crossed the line. In order to mitigate your anxiety during this time, it’s crucial to know yourself, and what makes you feel either better or worse. That being said, next time you are feeling anxious, try following some of these suggestions to confront the anxiety! 

Give Up Trying to Figure Out the Difference Between “Reasonable Anxiety” and “Too Much Anxiety” 

Typically, when trying to gauge if your anxiety has become a problem or not, professionals tend to look at how it impacts your life and your ability to function normally. For example, is your anxiety so overwhelming that it makes it hard to go to work or school? Are you skipping out on social situations so you don’t have to feel a certain way? However, this does not apply when referring to COVD-19, because the disease itself is interfering with how people live their lives. During this time particularly, it’s going to be important to pay attention to how your anxiety interferes with your ability to take care of yourself. 

Focus on What You Can Control 

Doubt and uncertainty are the oxygen for anxiety. Unfortunately, doubt and uncertainty are hard to avoid as we wait for more answers from scientists and government officials, but it’s crucial to focus in on what we can control, as opposed to what we can’t. Trying to stick to what’s recommended, preventative measures, and health precautions will have you better suited and prepared. 

Anxieties Don’t Have to be Acted Upon

It’s important to be aware of your fears and how they affect your behavior, instead of accepting them as a fact. Notice them and be curious about them, but sometimes it’s more beneficial to sit with them instead of taking action. 

Guided Meditations 

Meditation is a great way to “shut off a non-stop mental stream of anxious chatter.” There are guided meditations all over the internet, but Headspace is a good place to start for beginners.  

Do the Best You Can at the Time

Your best today may look a bit different than your best two months ago. During this difficult time, being patient and present with yourself will go a long way. Take pressure off of yourself, and use your best judgment. Generally, people make good decisions – they are thoughtful, prudent, and typically want to do the right things. However, there are two biases that we are susceptible to: outcome bias and hindsight bias. Outcome bias is exhibited when we judge the quality of our decisions by how things turn out, and hindsight bias includes exaggerating how predictable an outcome was, while giving ourselves a hard time for not seeing the obvious. As this virus unfolds, be mindful of the fact that we will likely find ourselves wishing we had done X instead of Y, and that’s completely normal and okay. 

Obtain Professional Help 

If you are feeling anxious about COVID-19, and it’s becoming overwhelming and hard to bear, it might be a good idea to talk to your therapist at some point. If you don’t have one, it’s a great time to peruse a new mental health professional, given that the government has mandated all insurance companies to provide coverage for Telehealth therapy. Symmetry Counseling provides individual, family and couples counseling and they can be contacted at (312) 578-9990 to schedule an appointment or a free 20-minute consultation with a talented clinician. 

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