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Coronavirus Anxiety Party

Been on social media lately, like in the last week? If you have, I’m sure a few things have happened:

  • You’ve purchased more toilet paper than you need
  • You bought something totally random because it was in stock
  • Your anxiety might be pretty high.

Not everyone is responding the same way when it comes to the new awareness to Covid 19, the Corona Virus.  A lot of the response to this has been fear and panic, and that totally makes sense. You’re allowed to have fear and to be anxious. But life goes on, and we all have lots of logistical issues to figure out.

So what can you do about it when you feel highly anxious?

Panic and Anxiety from CoronavirusFirst, know that you’re not alone in your fears and they can be quite reasonable. It’s understandable that you have these fears. The fear response that is happening: the brain’s fight, flight, or freeze responses are kicking into high gear. This response has to do with our brain’s smoke detector that controls our need to survive. If someone’s feelings of safety and security (or all levels of control regarding basic survival) start to feel threatened, there is going to be an increase in anxiety. That smoke detector alarm is going off, and it’s loud.

The brain starts to do some very specific things: 1) send out messages of danger, 2)shut down the part of the brain (the prefrontal cortex) that allow for more rationalized thinking. These are the parts of the brain tell you not to purchase 5 packs of toilet paper. They are the parts that would normally help you to realize that the world is not actually ending.

When I say you are not alone, I really mean it. If you take a look at your social media platforms, you cannot get away from information on this. I too have been my own victim to this. I have taken the deep dive down the rabbit hole for my entire weekend of social seclusion scrolling through my social media platforms and news resources wanting to know the newest updates. What did this do for me? It made me incredibly anxious. I have a predisposition to anxiety. It’s a fun thing called generalized anxiety disorder (insert sarcasm). Situations that make me feel like my well-being are at risk ramp up my anxiety to a place that feels consuming and overwhelming.

So what do I do about this new anxiety?

How do I take care of myself right now? How do others take care of themselves in a time of heightened anxiety?

I stop AND I breathe.

I, thankfully, was also able to see my own therapist today (remember we have our therapists too!). I realize that I have to set up a rule for myself that I can only engage in social media twice a day, or I’ll just keep spinning in this and continuing in a world of anxiety. Sorry, Instagram.

Is setting up social media rules something that might help you and your anxiety?

Well. did you take a deep dark dive as I did? Disconnecting for a little while can be super helpful and give our brains a rest. Let your smoke detector turn off for a little while. All that stress increases the release of cortisol (stress hormone) and puts you at risk for a lowered immune response– IE: heightened risk of getting sick, heightened blood pressure, poor memory, and concentration, among so.many.other.things.

Here are some other things that can be super helpful because even while anxiety is really frustrating, it’s also manageable:

  • Get outside and go for a walk. I know we live in Michigan and it’s still a little chilly, but some fresh air can be such an important part of your mental health right now.
  • Continue to see your therapist. This is not the time to start canceling and not managing your mental health. Does your therapist do telehealth? If you’re worried about getting sick or spreading germs, call and ask about telehealth options! Many therapists have set this up. If you need a therapist, call and set up an appointment with one. We’re taking intakes and again, if you’re worried about said germs, we are offering telehealth right now. We still want to lower the curve!
  • Be social with your friends even if it’s just a text or phone call. Stay connected to your emotional supports though. If you socialize in person, just be cautious. Wash your hands, try to not touch. Use your best judgment. Social isolation can be detrimental to some, so right now isolation may be causing you an increase in depression or anxiety. With the best judgment, get out and socialize.
  • Focus on what you can control. You can wash your hands, right? You can sanitize your work and living environment, yes? You can control what you eat and have a balanced diet right? You can get out and go for walks in the fresh air? Good, what can I control right now? Recognize what is out of your control and manage thoughts about this.
  • Distract, balance, ground. When you are really anxious, what are you going to do? Maybe make a list of coping skills and start thinking of new skills that may be helpful to you. Music, coloring, hobbies that you really enjoy, read a good book, spend some really good quality time with your family at home, take a nap, eat your favorite foods (maybe some good takeout), do some yoga, complete daily mindfulness activities, etc., etc..

My self-care today was to go to therapy followed by going to my favorite coffee shop to get a coffee to go (practicing social distancing of course and being the odd person constantly moving away from anyone getting too close to me). Supporting my local businesses feels like the right thing to do. I want to give back to my community in the best way possible, knowing how important this is right now for people’s wellbeing. But you know, a to-go order instead of sitting there staring out the wonderful window. Thanks Squibb Coffee.

If you are struggling with anxiety right now, just know that you are not alone. This is a time of a lot of uncertainty. So many people are feeling this. Take care of yourself, see your therapist, be present with your family, get outside, and call us if you need us. We just so happen to specialize in anxiety and we really want to take care of our community right now, because we really get it.

About The Author:

Amanda Martin Grand Rapids Ada Counselor

Amanda Martin, LMSW

Amanda knows that coming to therapy can be tough. She will put you at ease within minutes. Amanda works with people that have experienced trauma, are struggling with substance use, and with new mommas and poppas being impacted by pregnancy-related concerns! She loves using EMDR, just ask her about it!


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Mental health services update:

At a time when mental health services are more important than ever, Lifeologie Counseling Grand Rapids is offering remote therapy, remote group and mini-sessions, and free 15 minute sessions for front-line workers.