By: Chris Anderson Psy.D.

For the first time in our lives, our society is faced with very real danger and threat. As we struggle to figure out how to cope and survive a worldwide pandemic, many people are experiencing increased anxiety. They find themselves worrying, ruminating, and are preoccupied with news and updates about COVID-19. Compounding their anxiety is a dramatic disruption to our everyday lives. Our routines and the structure we are accustomed to has been turned upside down and most of us are floundering and scrambling to keep up and create some sense of normalcy in our lives.

What is Coronavirus Anxiety?

Anxiety is a very normal emotion and reaction to a perceived threat and unknown situation. Often the fear of the unknown will amplify our anxiety. Many people are prone to catastrophic thinking, meaning their thinking often goes to the work-case scenario. With this thinking, anxiety can increase tenfold. Although this virus poses a real threat to people’s well-being, it is important to try to keep our thinking grounded so we are not pouring gas on a fire.

Often in the course of therapy when dealing with anxiety in clients, we discover that much of their anxiety stems from irrational and unfound fears and conclusions. In this situation, the dangers are real and are not irrational inventions of our thinking or distorted interpretations. Anxiety for one’s physical health and financial stressors are based on facts and are top of mind throughout each day. When faced with real dangers, most people seek to create a sense of total safety and control as a way to combat their anxiety. The thinking becomes, “If I can control my environment and ensure my safety, then I won’t feel anxious and I will be safe.” Although this may be true, rarely can we actualize such an outcome.

Managing COVID-19 Anxiety

In combating anxiety, we have to realize that extremes and absolutes are rarely possible and tend to increase anxiety. When we can find the shades of gray, we can begin to ask ourselves, “What is enough control, and what is safe enough?” By accepting you may not be able to attain 100% safety and control, we can begin striving for 90-95% safe and in control. We can set a goal that is attainable and aspire to achieve it. When we strive for something realistic, instead of impossible, we should be able to bring down our anxiety. A great place to start is to look at the recommendations being made by the professionals and work to implement these strategies in our lives. In doing so we can try to draw some comfort in realizing you may already be doing everything you can to ensure the highest degree of safety and control.

It is also important to make sure you are getting reliable and unbiased information and suggestions. We encourage you to visit the CDC and WHO websites for accurate information about the COVID crisis and professional guidelines for increasing your safety. Unfortunately, there are some media outlets that are either misinformed or sensationalizing stories and information to boost the headlines and revenues. It can be easy to find your anxiety fueled by the news. Don’t over-expose yourself to news about COVID-19 and make sure what you do reference is reliable and credible. This too can reduce your anxiety greatly.

If your anxiety is getting the better of you and you would like to meet face to face, or via telehealth, with one of our psychologists or psychiatrists about treatment options, please call us now at 763-416-4167, or request an appointment on our website: WWW.IPC-MN.COM so we can sit down with you and complete thorough assessment and help you develop a plan of action that will work for you. Life is too short to be unhappy. Find the peace of mind you deserve.

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