Is this the new normal? Overcoming anxiety during COVID ~ Hina Sheel

The year 2020 will be remembered by everybody primarily for one reason, COVID -19! We are all living through a pandemic that has impacted us in many ways, from adapting to a new lifestyle of working from home, to physically distancing ourselves from friends and colleagues, and wearing masks when stepping outdoors. People across all generations often ask when will this end? When will we able to travel? And will this be the new normal?       

It has been a frightening time for many, with countries shutting down and individuals staying confined to limited space for a long time, bracing for what is coming next—often resulting in overwhelming dread and panic. Anxiety and fear caused due to the disease and confinement to a small space can result in intense emotions and also physiological responses among both adults and children. The emotions and physiological responses range from nervousness, rapid breathing, difficulty in focusing or thinking clearly, to panic attacks.

There are several ways to cope with anxiety that can help you and your loved ones:

  1. Just breathe: Anxiety is often accompanied by uneasiness and restlessness. Doing simple breathing exercises will reinstall a sense of calm and help you concentrate better on the task at hand.  
  1. Let’s Colour: Colouring provides temporary relief and lets your mind find some ease that helps you to go back with a different perspective to the situation or problem you are facing. 
  2. Stay focused: Stay away from negative thoughts and information that make you anxious. Excessive use of social media exposes one to alarming, false, and anxiety-inducing situations. Limit your exposure to social media and focus on activities that you like. 
  3. Structured routine: When one is in an enclosed space for long there is often a sense of uncertainty about what lies ahead. This can lead to anxiety. Having a structured routine and setting self-goals will result in feeling less concerned and more productive.
  4. Seek help! : It is alright to ask for help. If you are overwhelmed by stress, speak with your loved ones, or seek professional support

Coping with one’s anxieties is a gradual process. It is not a “one-stop solution.” Acknowledging that you are feeling anxious is part of the progression towards bringing calm to your environment. This is a long but fruitful journey. During these unprecedented times, we need to remember that every coin has two faces. With the bad comes the good. The pandemic should make us reflect and look inwards, pick up new hobbies, spend more time with loved ones, and reassess our priorities. 

About the Author

Hina is sessional lecturer and a researcher at James Cook University