woman wearing facemask amid coronavirus particles

Navigating The Pandemic Paradox

Sometimes it seems as if we’ve all become trapped in a movie that is playing out worldwide. The coronavirus pandemic is like nothing we’ve ever seen before and has indelibly changed our lives. This time last year, people would have laughed if you’d predicted the shuttering of schools and businesses, that face masks would become a fashion statement, or that our normal lives would be turned upside down so completely. Yet, despite this upheaval, there are still good things that have come from the pandemic.

Is There A Pandemic Silver Lining?

One of the things I have been hearing a lot is how the pandemic has allowed people to step back and “reset.” We’re learning what is important to us. In many ways, this “time out” from our day to day schedules has brought us closer together.

One of the most significant changes are the family ties that formed or were remodeled once our hectic lives were halted. Parents and kids have finally been able to spend time as a family without extracurricular activities taking precedence. Parents who are working from home have extra time to interact with their children now that they don’t have to commute. Most children aren’t going off to summer camps or day camps this year, so families are vacationing together.

People have had the chance to start hobbies, adopt pets, and broaden their world by trying new recipes. They’ve been virtually visiting museums and art galleries, and finding creative ways to keep in touch with loved ones.

Carbon emissions are down thanks to reduced commutes. People are rethinking their careers, saving more money, decluttering, and finally working through their to-do lists.

Even silver linings come with stress, though.

The Pandemic’s Harmful Effects On Mental Health

There are clear concerns for people’s mental health as the virus continues to affect the world. Initially, the skyrocketing death rates made everyone anxious that they or a loved one could be the next victim. Then, stay-at-home orders magnified our sense of losing control. We saw this play out in the form of panic buying and hoarding. Lastly, the implosion of the economy and the massive layoffs and job losses have dampened hopes of a quick recovery.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the mental health effects of all the stress that has come from coping with the pandemic could include:

  • Disturbances in our patterns of sleeping or eating
  • Problems concentrating
  • Anxiety about our health and that of our loved ones
  • An increase or worsening of mental health conditions
  • Deterioration of ongoing health problems
  • An increase in the use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

There are also physical symptoms of anxiety that can include:

  • Nausea and sweating
  • Muscle tension
  • Shortness of breath or a rapid heartbeat
  • Headaches or an increase in migraines

Not everyone will have experienced these pandemic anxiety concerns because we all react to stress differently, but some people may be dealing with several of these challenges – particularly if they suffered from anxiety or depression before the pandemic.

Self Care For Pandemic Anxiety

  • Try to distract yourself. I know there are restrictions in some areas and more being put back into place, but you have online options for such things as cooking classes, music lessons, learning a language, yoga or meditation. Look up virtual options for visiting the museums you’ve always dreamed of or places you’ve always wanted to see (Google Earth and YouTube are great platforms for this).
  • Don’t scrutinize every physical symptom. This is allergy season, plus there are always summer colds out there. Remember that a cough is likely just a cough and not an indicator that you have COVID-19, especially if you have been cautious and isolating yourself from others.
  • Turn off the news stations. News reports can start catastrophic thoughts racing and dramatically increase your anxiety. By constantly watching news coverage of the pandemic, you never get a mental break. Remember that news reports are designed to make you tense and concerned – it’s what keeps you clicking on the news websites or tuning into to their broadcasts to find out what’s happening.  

Professional Help For Pandemic Anxiety

Sometimes, however, self-care is not enough to get relief from anxiety. If your anxiety seems to be increasing as the coronavirus pandemic continues, you may have developed an anxiety disorder. If your symptoms get worse or continue for longer than two weeks, please speak to one of our trained mental health professionals. We offer both virtual / online and in-office treatment options.

For more information, please contact The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094 today. 

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