·  by Brad West   ·  

COVID-19 and Anxiety

Anxiety is a normal reaction to uncertainty and things that may harm us. For many of us, the coronavirus and the COVID-19 illness make for a very uncertain future. People worry about their own health and the health of their loved ones.

Anxiety is a normal and expected reaction to the pandemic, too much anxiety can cause harm. Feeling stressed and fearful every day can very quickly take a toll on your health and well-being. When anxiety and fear lead to panic, people may also take precautions that ultimately cause disruptions in their lives. Examples of this can be demanding medical tests or medical care when it is not necessary or stockpiling supplies to the point that those supplies aren't available to people who are sick and need those items.

Anxiety can also cause the opposite reaction: denying or refusing to believe that the situation is serious. When people deny the severity of a situation in order to avoid anxiety, they may do nothing or they may ignore public health orders or recommendations from health authorities.

Our levels of anxiety will always fluctuate but somewhere in the middle is what works the best for us. Coronavirus and the COVID-19 illness are serious and we should be concerned about the situation. You can use that concern to take positive and protective actions—things like practicing good hygiene, staying home when you feel sick, and having a plan in case you need to self-isolate.

It's important to be informed, but constantly checking for updates or reading sensationalized stories can really take a toll on your mental health. Stick to trusted, verified news sources and limit yourself if social media or news stories increase your anxiety.

Some people find it helpful to talk through anxiety-provoking situations like coronavirus and the COVID-19 illness, but others may find that conversations make their anxiety worse. If you need to limit conversations, it's okay to tell family, friends, and co-workers that you can't participate. Just make sure you don't ignore all news and important messages—the goal is to take in the information you need and cut down on the excess, not ignore the situation altogether.

The coronavirus and COVID-19 illness situation changes often. Look to trusted organizations and agencies like your Provincial or Territorial Government sites, Government of Canada and the World Health Organization for information about steps you can take to reduce your risk of getting sick or passing the illness on to others. See the following links for up-to-date information on protecting yourself and staying safe:

www.bccdc.ca

www.albertahealthservices.ca

www.saskhealthauthority.ca

www.gov.mb.ca/covid19

www.yukon.ca/covid-19

www.gov.nt.ca/en/covid-19-general

www.gov.nu.ca/health/information/covid-19-novel-coronavirus

www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19

www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus

If you are more vulnerable to the coronavirus or are in contact with others who may be vulnerable, talk to your doctor or care team about any additional measures to take based on your own situation.

People who are more vulnerable to coronavirus and the COVID-19 illness may have to take extra precautions or isolate themselves more than others. Ask friends, family members, or neighbours if they need anything, such as groceries or other household needs. Simply checking in regularly by phone, text, or video call can make a big difference.

Isolating yourself from others, such as working from home for longer periods of time, can affect your mood. Find ways to connect with people you care about in other ways. If you can't see someone in person, you can still reach out by phone, text, or video call.

Some things we can do to take care of ourselves, eat as well as possible, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, and make time for hobbies.

It's hard to predict exactly what will happen next. People feel anxious about the future at the best of times, and many people have never encountered a pandemic like this before. It's okay if you need help.

Here are some signs you might benefit from extra help and support:

You can't think about anything other than coronavirus or the COVID-19 illness

Your anxiety interferes in your daily life—for example, you have a hard time going to work or being in public spaces even when the risk is very low

You isolate yourself from others when it isn't necessary

You feel hopeless or angry about the situation

You have a hard time eating or sleeping well

You experience physical symptoms like frequent headaches or an upset stomach

 

You can find self-management strategies for anxiety from Anxiety Canada at:

www.anxietycanada.com

MindShift app

More resources

Canadian Mental Health

www.cmha.ca

Or the Provincial Mental Health Associations websites

www.mentalhealthcommission.ca

www.mdsc.ca

bouncebackbc.ca

 

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