Covid-19 and Anxiety

This is an extremely difficult time for everyone, however, I have seen my clients rally in the past few weeks. There is a sense of coming together, even though we have to stay apart. On the other hand, there is also a sense of being “watched” and unfortunately, public shaming is taking place. One person’s “anxiety” about COVID-19 becomes another person’s public shaming, even if the recipient is abiding by the government’s rules of social distancing. Instead of dealing with one’s anxiety internally, focus can turn outward, perhaps an attempt to gain control of a situation in which we otherwise feel helpless. I often discuss the difference between internal regulation of anxiety versus external discharge of it with clients who focus on the external to try to deal with the internal. Examples of an outward focus: “If only those people wouldn’t go out in public, then I wouldn’t be so anxious,” “If I wash my groceries, then I won’t be so anxious.” Anxiety is something that needs to be treated internally. It’s a physical sensation that we can deal with through deep breathing, mindfulness, and progressive relaxation. The external situation is not the cause of the anxiety. How we make sense of the external is what will increase or decrease the anxiety.
We are in unprecedented times. Here is an opportunity to grow our resilience. We’re stuck in this pandemic nightmare and we can only do our part. It has to run its course. The government is trying to do what is best for the country. Worrying about the future or trying to exert control over others won’t get us very far. Focus on what you can do: practise social
distancing, self-regulation, managing your finances or applying for assistance, and recognize when your thoughts are sending you down the rabbit hole. If they are, reduce the physical sensations of anxiety by focusing on your breathing rather than your thoughts and stay in the
moment. You can’t control Covid-19, but you can gain control of your anxiety.

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