How to Ease Anxiety During a Crisis

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Anxiety is one of the most common mental health concerns for both adults and children. For some, anxiety can be temporary experience that is based on different factors like relationship struggles (including family), or stress at work and/or school. For others, the anxiety they face can often be a chronic, recurring issue that causes a disruption in someone’s ability to carry out their daily living and may have a much harder time coping with what is often described as an overwhelming sense of dread or loss of control. As we are now seeing a steady and significant rise in the number of COVID-19 cases being diagnosed not just within Canada, but all across the world, many people are dealing with feelings of anxiousness and stress, and much of those feelings have to do with the fear of the unknown. For example, someone might worry as to whether or not they will wind up being diagnosed with COVID-19; while others may be in voluntary or mandatory isolation and face potential job loss as a result, leaving them wondering how they are going to pay bills, be able to afford rent, and buy groceries – all of which are very valid concerns to have.

As things with COVID-19 are rapidly changing, many people are turning to their radios, TVs, and social media for the latest breaking news on this pandemic. While it’s a good ideal to stay in the know, being inundated with a lot at once can be incredibly overwhelming for some. If you find that you’re feeling overwhelmed as a result of the news you’re reading online or seeing on TV, it can be a good idea to give yourself a break. This means turning off the television and/or radio, as well as logging out of social media. While you might not be getting exact by-the-minute news by doing this, you’ll be giving yourself and your mind a much-needed break from all of that bad news – and even a small break could help relieve some of that anxiousness you might be feeling. If the news itself isn’t what’s causing your anxiety, but the uncertainty with your job (or school) is, understand that there have been measures put in place by the Canadian government to assist those who may need it. In some cases, employers are even willing to work with their employees by allowing them to work from home or use sick days/vacation time if they have it.

All of that being said, the utmost important thing in a crisis situation like this, is how you cope with the stress and anxiety that you’re experiencing. For example, once you’ve signed out of social media or took a break from your TV screen, you’re probably wondering what you’re supposed to do after-the-fact. While you may not be able to have face-to-face interactions with friends or family members (as we’re all supposed to be practicing social distancing and be staying home as much as we possibly can right now), you can interact with them in other ways, such as giving them a call or video chatting them (i.e. on FaceTime), by texting, or even by sending them an e-mail. Having someone to talk to and share your feelings with during a time like this can be helpful, as while it may still be scary, you’ll know you’re not alone – as the person you’re talking to is most likely feeling the same or very similar to the way in which you’re feeling.

Another good way to ease anxiety is by finding a hobby you like. If you’re good at art, you might enjoy taking up drawing or painting; while another good hobby can be writing in a journal. If you’re someone who doesn’t necessarily like talking on the phone or someone who may not have many people to turn to, writing your thoughts and feelings out can be an incredibly therapeutic outlet – and is something you can do consistently. For others, easing anxiety might look like reading a book, watching a movie, listening to their favourite music, or even something as simple as taking a nap.

Something else people find helpful in relieving anxiety is exercise. While it may not be the safest time to spend time outdoors (especially if you are going to be in close proximity of others), you can still get out and enjoy the fresh air by going for a walk or bike ride if the weather permits. Or, you can even exercise from the comfort of your own home. You can also try meditation or even practice different breathing techniques, which are also known to help decrease anxiety significantly. Healthline offers several different breathing techniques specific to relieving anxiety here.

Remember, it’s not just COVID-19 that causes anxiety – and there are many different reasons why someone might suffer from it. For those who are in need assistance with their mental health (or if you know someone who does), you can find a wide range of resources by clicking here.