3 Tips to Help You Cope With Covid-19 Anxiety

First: Try to recognize the problem well before hitting panic mode.

Worrying about your health and well-being, and that of your loved ones, doesn’t have to reach peak panic mode for you to start using anxiety-management and resilience-building skills. Here’s where to start.

1. Stop scrolling

If you notice anxious thoughts spike following a Twitter or Instagram sesh, or after watching the news, it’s time to tune out. Even pre-pandemic research published in 2010 in Current Psychiatry Reports showed that health anxiety can be high following exposure to disease-related media — and there is no shortage of virus-dominated stories at the moment. “Many psychologists, myself included, are recommending that clients limit media exposure as one way to help manage excessive anxiety,” says Dr. Melanie Badali, a psychologist and board director of Anxiety Canada. Cut back to checking your social channels just once a day, or every few days, to give yourself a break from the pandemic news cycle.

(Related: How to Know If Your Level of Health Anxiety Is “Normal”)

2. Balance the probabilities

If you’re following the government’s health advice, taking reasonable precautions and otherwise in good health, it’s important to factor all that in before you freak out on your way into the grocery store. “I always tell my clients to think about the probabilities,” says Dr. Kristen Kaploun, a clinical psychologist in Burlington, Ont.

3. Call out your anxious thoughts

If you’ve balanced the probabilities (whether it’s the danger of shopping in-store, your child going to school or attending a distanced birthday party, for example) and you know the likely outcome is probably fine, but you’re still starting to panic, it’s time to “call a duck a duck,” as Kaploun puts it. In other words, concede that it’s your anxiety talking. “If we’re able to acknowledge that anxious thought, it’s much easier to dismiss it,” she says.

Next: The Impact of Social Distancing on Seniors Living at Home