There is no denying that the COVID pandemic has been a scary time. It seems that the world is constantly changing, sometimes minute by minute. All this change can create anxiety, especially as restrictions are being lifted and people are starting to get back to “normal life,” or as we continue to hear of new variants.
Anxiety is a normal part of life and is something that everyone experiences. Anxiety can be a helpful emotion at times. It warns of danger and prepares us for fight or flight. However, when left unchecked anxiety can have many negative impacts, which might include isolation, avoidance of anxiety-producing situations, chronic health problems and panic attacks. A healthy fear and caution are normal responses to an unknown world, and avoidance can seem like a healthy way to deal with anxiety. However, using avoidance as a form of coping can adversely affect anxiety by increasing the amount of anxiety that is experienced when we inevitably must do the thing that causes us anxiety. The way to overcome fear and anxiety is to do the things that cause fear and anxiety.
Here are some healthy coping skills that can help decrease the impacts of anxiety:
- It is important to start small and work through the anxiety that each situation brings up.
- Gaining acceptance of anxiety can help decrease the impact it has. Using phrases such as, “I feel anxious,” “It is normal that I am feeling anxious,” or “It is okay to feel this way,” can be a healthy way to process anxiety. Remember the importance of breathing.
- Be patient with yourself. Getting back into “normal life” takes time. If situations feel too overwhelming, than it is okay to give yourself permission to stop. The important part is that you keep trying and do not see one setback as not being able to accomplish anything.
- Keep trying. It is normal to have successes and failures. Celebrate your victories – even the small ones. See mistakes and failures as learning opportunities.
- Get help. If anxiety has become a problem for you or a loved one there are ways to get help. Therapy and talking with your primary care physician are two of the best things to do to help with chronic anxiety.
As the world starts to return to normal it can be hard to know what to do. Do the things that you need to that make you feel safe, but don’t let anxiety prevent you from living your life.
Senior Life Solutions at MyMichigan Medical Center Gladwin is available to support you. To learn more about the program and how the program might benefit you or a loved one, call (989) 246-6339. The team at Senior Life Solutions is happy to discuss our program and provide tools to help combat anxiety.
David Bailey, L.M.S.W., is an outpatient therapist at Senior Life Solutions. For more than three years, Dave has led emotional well-being groups as well as individual sessions. He brings a wealth of counseling experience and has a calm, gentle demeanor making others feel immediately comfortable after meeting him.