Managing COVID-19 Induced Anxiety

As the world continues to grapple with the pandemic, we look at a few ways to manage the increasing prevalence of anxiety and stress.

Disclaimer: The information below is not intended as medical advice and is only intended to offer points you may wish to consider in 'non-emergency situations', together with signposting for more support. You should consult an appropriate medical professional if you have concerns about your levels of anxiety or dial 999 in an emergency if someone is in a life-threatening condition

Lockdowns, restrictions, isolation, social distancing, facemasks, furlough and redundancies are common phrases now used in everyday conversations with family, friends and colleagues.

2020 has brought with it not just a global pandemic, but a whole vocabulary of terms that understandably could induce anxiety. For many of us, managing this ‘new normal’ has proven rather difficult, and it’s never been more important to be aware of your mental health and how to maintain a healthy, happy headspace.

Dealing with Anxiety Around Face Masks

Whilst wearing a facemask has become part of the ‘new normal’, for some it is still anxiety inducing – either to wear one, or to see others not wearing one.

  • Anxious about wearing facemasks

    There are a number of reasons why a facemask could cause emotional distress, and government guidance is you don’t need to wear one if this is the case. However, not wearing one could cause more distress through fear of judgement from others – creating a complex situation of choosing between which option would cause the least anxiety.

  • Anxious about those not wearing facemasks

    COVID-19 has triggered fear and uncertainty in so many areas and seeing people not wearing masks may make you feel particularly anxious, especially if you or loved ones are in the vulnerable or at risk categories.

    Maintaining your own social distancing should lessen these feelings of worry, as well as reminding yourself of the many people unable to wear a facemask for their own personal reasons.

Social Distancing

One-way systems, clear signage, a security presence and public understanding all assist us in maintaining social distance when in public. The ability to socially distance effectively from others is reliant on numerous factors, and if you feel yourself getting anxious in certain situations you could consider the following:

  • Avoid visiting places at peak times
  • Explore alternatives, such as online deliveries
  • Consider the venue before attending, such as favouring larger indoor spaces over smaller ones

Social Interaction

Reduced social interaction has also been extremely tough. Some people are much better than others at spending prolonged periods of time alone, whereas for others, staying isolated is very difficult and has created anxieties about returning into the wider world.

If you feel anxious about meeting up with others, you could consider the following steps:

  • Talk to your friend or loved one beforehand about your concerns, so they have clear expectations of what measures will make you feel comfortable and safe.
  • Adhere to stricter guidance than is required.
  • Meet for short periods in uncrowded places or at non-peak times.

Sticking to individual households has also put pressure on relationships, whether that’s between families, partners or housemates. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or unhappy in your situation you could consider the following steps.

  • Talk to your housemates and explain how you feel, they may well be feeling the same.
  • Consider creating alone time out through walks by yourself or time by yourself in a room or park.
  • Collaborate on times when you will each take it in turns to be out of the house, giving each person some alone time at home.
  • Look at the options of individual times in the kitchen – if you’re used to sharing meals, perhaps you could arrange times that don’t collide.

Job Security

The longer the pandemic lasts, the more job security risks increase despite government supports like the furlough scheme. The knowledge and fear of this can understandably induce anxiety, as employment uncertainty means not knowing if financial commitments can be made in the short, medium or long term.

  • If you are particularly anxious about your job, you may feel you can discuss concerns with your manager or employer which may help clarify your individual or company situation.

General Anxiety

This year and going into 2021, it’s never been more important to take time for yourself. The top three things you can do are:

  • Get a good night’s sleep
  • Eat as healthily as possible
  • Get fresh air or daily exercise

It’s also important to understand that everyone is experiencing their own journey, navigating the current pandemic as best as they can individually. Acknowledging this doesn’t detract from our own challenges, but may help to bring perspective and reduce your anxiety levels.

With the pandemic’s repercussions set to continue, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and lonely. If your anxiety levels become too much to manage yourself, contact your GP or seek other professional advice.