Skip to content

Tips for Soothing Pandemic Anxiety

April 19, 2020

A post from our blog, Happy. Healthy. Southie.

By: Kate Moschandreas, LMFT, LMHC

If you have felt an uptick in your stress levels during the pandemic, you are not alone.

The Covid-19 pandemic has unleashed an obnoxiously long list of new things to worry about: concerns about our own health and the health of those we love, nagging questions about finances and job security, and daily disruptions to our routines and schedules. And our usual coping strategies? Well, now, we stay indoors and steer clear of friends.

The American Psychiatric Association’s recent polling shows that 36% of Americans report the pandemic is having a serious impact on their mental health, with 19% having new trouble sleeping, 12% indicating increased fighting with a partner or loved ones, and approximately 24% having trouble concentrating on other things because they are focused on the coronavirus. So, take heart: if you find yourself tossing and turning at 2 am, consider that one of your friends, colleagues, or family members is probably doing the same.

These symptoms of stress feel awful, but it may be helpful to know that they are a normal and appropriate response to uncertainty. Any time we face new, unknown experiences, our bodies produce increased adrenaline. This hormone surge helps us to stay on heightened alert, readying us for fight or flight. We fidget and feel tense because our bodies are readying to act. Yet, since many of us are more sedentary and homebound than ever, these symptoms feel especially uncomfortable. It may be validating that our bodies are operating as they “should,” but most of us would prefer feeling calmer and more relaxed.

In the weeks since the pandemic began, dozens of mental health professionals have written articles with suggestions for allaying “pandemic anxieties.” I have read many of these pieces and found that though the specific advice varies, a similar recipe for reducing anxiety is recommended across the board. The advice generally suggests:

  1. increasing daily structure,
  2. seeking greater connection, and
  3. planning pleasure.

 

I’ve included some of the most useful suggestions below, though as with any list of tips, some of the advice will feel worthy of trying and some will not. Keep in mind that there is no one right way to cope with stress, so consider these as options for stabilizing the uncertainty of the time.

Increase daily structure. Many mental health professionals suggest that being schedule-less ramps anxiety. They advise that by intentionally developing new, comfortable routines, our sense of stability will be increased and our anxieties diminished.

  • Keep a sleep schedule with a similar bedtime and wake-up time each day.
  • Aim for sleep at nighttime, not too much during the day.
  • Try to get dressed each day (sadly, pajamas for days in a row is not recommended).
  • Time-block your schedule in one-two hour increments so that your schedule has both flexibility and structure.
  • Move your body every day (YouTube offers free work-outs and Beachbody.com offers low-cost workouts).
  • Get outside at least once a day.

 

Seek connection. Since the pandemic has isolated many of us from our work colleagues, friends, and family members, our daily reliance on support, humor, and shared experiences has been disrupted. Many mental health professionals suggest seeking virtual connections as much as possible.

  • Use your phone/video calls to check in with those you would usually see.
  • Reach out to old friends with whom you’ve lost contact.
  • Connect frequently with older relatives.
  • Contact your nearby neighbors to see how they are managing.
  • Call your therapist for a virtual session or call the health center for a referral to a therapist.

 

Plan pleasure. The pandemic has disrupted our ability to enjoy many of our usual entertainments – whether watching our sports teams on TV, going to a weekly AA meeting, or participating in a religious service. We miss not just the fun of these experiences but also how our anticipation of them mark time with experiences to which we look forward. Mental health professionals suggest creating new ways for anticipated fun.

Plan a long-term project. Whether it’s an elaborate jigsaw puzzle or a home improvement project, give yourself an initiative with which you can make gradual progress.

  • Schedule walks with friends (using social distancing, of course).
  • Plan game nights – from virtual video gaming to Monopoly.
  • Plan a pampering experience of indulgent self-care routines.
  • Plan a virtual movie night with friends where you can watch together, via phone or video call.

 

No one thinks that any one of these suggestions will erase anyone’s anxiety. However, usually when we are intentional about striving to respond to our stress, we make ourselves feel better than if we had done nothing at all. Ideally, a bit of self-care, pleasure, and routine will help calm our nerves, allowing our hopes for better tomorrows to be renewed.

For more supportive advice from SBCHC’s health experts, visit our Happy. Healthy. Southie. blog.

Get information from our health experts delivered to your inbox. Sign up today!

Upcoming Events

There are no upcoming events.

Recent Events

Youth Ambassadors Urge Their Friends to "Get Vax'd"

SBCHC Youth Ambassadors Urge their friends to "Get Vax'd"

Wellness Tips

The state has launched a new free telehealth program to help patients more easily access COVID-19 treatment

Telehealth is a quick…

Read More »

Abbott Recalls Powder Infant Formulas including Similac, Alimentum and EleCare

Abbott Voluntarily Recalls Powder…

Read More »

Before You Head to the Emergency Room, Call Us.

If you are experiencing…

Read More »

SBCHC Spotlight

SBCHC Recognized For Being One of the Top Pediatric Primany Care Practices in the State

SBCHC Recognized For Being One…

Read More »

South Boston Community Health Center Wins MHQP Patient Experience Award

South Boston Community Health Center…

Read More »

SBCHC Recieves National Recognition

South Boston Community Health Center…

Read More »

What You're Saying

“I feel that it is a well-oiled machine, with Dr. Brout at South Boston. I just can't say enough good things! They know why I am there without a computer, since everybody knows what is going on with me, all staff. Everybody is on the same page, for a level of healthcare I had never experienced.”
Family Medicine/Dr Brout
Family Medicine Patient 2022
“I like the doctors my son has. They listen, are very understanding, and seem like they care. I just like how they are with my son.”
BH Parent
Parent of Behavioral Health Patient 2022
“I like the attentiveness and feeling heard. I appreciate the fact that providers always make me feel involved in decisions.”
Behavioral Health
Behavioral Health Patient 2022
“I like that the service is more personalized because you know the people, and that is very important.”
Dental
Dental Patient 2022
“I liked that they were attentive and fast. They gave me the support I needed and were empathetic and organized. I went to a lot of departments, and all of the staff was this way.”
Family Medicine
Family Medicine Patient 2022
“The staff in the lab, Verinta or "V," is amazing. My son was literally giddy with delight at her joking and playfulness. He was actually so happy with her, he didn't react to the blood draw, but then cried outside a tiny bit with a delayed reaction like "hey, wait, that hurt." She is an absolutely phenomenal addition to the phlebotomy team! Overall, a great experience.”
May 2019
Parent of a Pediatric Patient
“Dr. Kane always asks me if I understand everything and whether or not I need further clarification... I really appreciate him explaining everything so in depth.”
2018
Eye Care Patient 2018
“There’s an emphasis on education here. Dr. Chiakpo and Marianna (a nurse in training) provided a lot of background concerning my issue and even brought in diagrams, which I greatly appreciated, since I’m a visual learner. They both gave me space to ask questions on everything. I really appreciated the time they spent with me.”
2018
Family Medicine Patient 2018
“I truly enjoyed the sweetness of Dr. Biffi. She was very detailed in her explanations, and thoroughly checked and re-checked everything. She really impressed me.The assistant was also very good, dedicated, and professional.”
2018
Eye Care Patient 2018
“My ride was late, but Dr. Green waited an hour for me. When I got there, she took me right in, so that was very nice. She gave me a prescription; she actually brought the prescription all the way outside to give it to me, since I had forgotten it. She is excellent! Everyone is very nice and very understanding. I really liked the center; everyone was very cordial to me.””
2018
Adult Medicine Patient 2018