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How to Deal with Pandemic Anxiety
How to Deal with Pandemic Anxiety

Around the world, COVID-19 restrictions are lifting in various stages, and in some places, they're getting tighter again as the pandemic continues.

In some parts of the world, people are coming out of lockdown and recent months have been a time of being allowed to see family again, to go out for dinner, and even festivals and nightclubs. This can be quite overwhelming after months of restrictions in place. While you might be excited for some sense of normalcy, feeling uncertain and anxious is a normal reaction to the world changing once again.

In other places, the pandemic is getting more serious again, perhaps after months of things seeming like they were getting better. This can be extremely confusing and stress-inducing. 

To help transition from lockdown to opening up, we’ve put together some tips on how to deal with pandemic anxiety.

People will respond differently to the current situation where they live depending on differences in being introverted or extroverted, our view of risk, our own health needs and those of our friends and family, and also how the pandemic has affected us personally. Moving from worrying about these factors to another set of rules (or no rules!) can feel strange and cause anxiety and worry. 

For some, after spending so much time being stuck inside, we can get used to our own company, or socializing online, and the thought of in-person interactions can feel daunting. Even those who love socializing can feel anxious. 

How to deal with pandemic anxiety?

If you’re feeling pretty anxious about things - first of all, acknowledge that this is completely normal. We have been living with a threat for over a year now, and our bodies can react to threats by going into flight or fight mode - literally triggering anxious thoughts and feelings. Lockdown might have been a reset period for some people, but also for others it was a time of intense stress - and people have been living with those feelings of stress for a very long time, which can lead to chronic stress, and issues like sleep deprivation, memory issues, and irritability. However, there are ways to combat this.

Soothing Techniques

There are soothing techniques that you can use to remind your body that you are physically safe. Simple breathing exercises and pranayama practices, like focusing on a long inhalation through your nose, and a long exhalation through your mouth, can take your body out of flight or fight mode. You can also ground yourself by naming one thing you see, one thing you smell, one thing you feel, one thing you hear to help present yourself. These techniques can help to notice your individual stress triggers. 

Be Kind to Yourself

Giving yourself a break and being kind to yourself can make a huge difference too. Practicing self-compassion as the world changes around us can help to transition, and remind ourselves that our feelings are completely natural. It can be tempting to beat ourselves up for our feelings and push ourselves to power through, but it's super helpful to accept our feelings and not judge ourselves for them. Give yourself time and space for your feelings, and be present with how you're feeling.

Focus On Things You Can Control

Feeling like we’re not in control has been a feeling many of us have struggled with over the course of the pandemic, and it’s totally normal. There’s a lot in the unknown that we just can’t control, from new variants to the risk of another lockdown. It can be hard to stay calm when you worry about things like this. Not having control can be anxiety-inducing, and we can try and combat this by trying to control things we can’t. It helps to focus on things that you can control, from small things and big things, and also thinking about how we can control our anxiety levels by being kind to ourselves.

Reframing

When we feel anxious it can be easy to get into unhelpful thought patterns, where we start to imagine catastrophic situations or try to predict the future. If you catch yourself doing this about our changing landscape, it can be useful to try and reframe your thoughts, and try and look at things in a more positive way. Remind yourself that it’s normal to feel anxious and that it’s okay to move at your own pace when going back to ‘normal life. 

Monitor News Consumption

Watching, reading, and listening to the news is a great way to stay on top of how the world is changing, but too much news consumption can actually make you feel worse. A lot of news stories are based on rumors and speculation and can make you feel more anxious. Try to find a trusted source that you can rely on regularly, and set a time limit for how much you watch, read or listen to it.

Keep Boundaries You’re Comfortable With

Everyone responds to the end of lockdown in different ways, and it will probably affect you. People close to you may be feeling different, maybe more excited than anxious, and they might invite you over or to do things you may not be comfortable with. It’s important to be honest, and set boundaries that you feel comfortable with. Try not to put the needs of others above your own, and practice setting boundaries as we move forward.

Stick to a Routine

Looking after yourself is so important when you’re feeling anxious. Focus on the basics and maintain a routine that fills your day with sleep, healthy food, and exercise, as well as talking to loved ones. Your routine doesn’t need to change too much even though the world might be.

Accept What Has Happened

Even when this is over one day, it may be unrealistic to jump straight back into their lives as if this hasn’t happened. Taking time to process and accept what has happened is important to move forward. Ask yourself questions like "What have I found hard?” and "What have I learned about myself", and take stock of where you are in your life right now.

Wherever you are in the world, the landscape of your life has probably changed drastically over the pandemic. Try not to let your anxious feelings overwhelm you and enjoy your life as much as you can, despite the ongoing unusual circumstances we're still living in.

By Amy Cavill

Practice the 7-Day Yoga for Anxiety Relief Immersion to help you relax!


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