04/26/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/26/2021 13:45
Being on high alert due to COVID for more than a year has had many of us in a heightened state, feeling anxious all the time whether we notice it or not. But we've also become comfortable with stay-at-home routines and shifting social and work expectations.
Now that vaccinations are increasing and spikes are decreasing, we have to learn how to cope with feeling anxious about life after COVID, which may include:
Because we've grown accustomed to so much lack of certainty, there's also an underlying sense of 'Is this for real?' - or will we be quarantined yet again?
'Whether or not someone identifies with anxiety related to the pandemic, just having that 'unknown' hanging out there for so long causes feelings of unrest in just about everyone,' says behavioral health counselor Chris Edwards, MS, LPC, NCC, division manager of Mirmont Outpatient Center Broomall, part of Main Line Health. 'For people who were already prone to anxiety before COVID, this past year has likely amplified anxious feelings. Now we're asking people to get out a little and safely enjoy life with family and friends. For some, this is a mixed blessing.'
There are already studies showing pandemic-related anxiety tendencies in young people and an additional study is underway to assess anxiety and motivation during the COVID crisis, to understand how behaviors are different for people who have anxiety vs. those who do not.
This stop-and-start way of life may not be over yet so it's critical for mental health and well-being to develop ways of coping with feelings of anxiety related to life after COVID and to navigate life in new ways.
Edwards also reminds us, 'It is perfectly acceptable and even advisable to seek help or support if your anxiety impedes on your life in any way and stops you from doing things you may have previously or currently enjoy.'
'The definition of anxiety is 'fear of the unknown,'' says Edwards. 'Taking charge of what we can is a great way to help reduce that fear. When you're in control you have less unknown. Another way to ease feelings of unrest is to tell yourself (and others) that 'This too shall pass.' It may be inconvenient or uncomfortable, and certainly it's new territory for everyone on the planet, but we will get through it. It's what we must all accept at this time.'
'Mindfulness through meditation and breath work is a strong emphasis here at Mirmont,' adds Edwards. 'We take a holistic approach to mental health therapy as well as drug and alcohol treatment, encouraging patients to employ these practices, which help support their success in therapy as well as in recovery. 'As long as you're breathing you're still alive.' I love saying that to patients and staff.'
...and any number of things that you can do that are enjoyable and relaxing. The main goal is to make sure you do something every day to take care of you. This approach to taking care of self, first and foremost, is important to maintain even as we ease into life after COVID.
'Self-care also includes not overscheduling yourself. It includes sticking to behaviors and practices that matter to you, like masking when appropriate, and speaking up and advocating for yourself when you're uncomfortable,' advises Edwards. 'The social aspect of masking is so important. (We see people falling to peer pressure, not wearing a mask when they think they should, but they're afraid to stand out.) You should be confident in yourself and your decision, especially when it comes to personal safety.'
Remind yourself that you can handle whatever life may bring. You've already been doing it successfully and you have the opportunity to ingrain healthy behaviors now that will serve you for the rest of your life.
Need support for anxiety related to life after COVID or other life challenges? Mirmont provides outpatient group and individual therapy and drug and alcohol treatment for ages 14 and up.