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Anxiety Disorders: The Corona Virus and Amplified Angst

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An anxiety disorder can often feel like a mind inside a runaway train. The fear, the worry, the “what ifs” barrel down the track, the emergency brake out of reach. You’re left with no choice but to hang on for a bumpy ride.

And then the train crashes right into a pandemic…..

It derails….out of control, out of sorts, out of your mind.

Yes, nothing can amplify the angst of the anxious like a deadly virus, a collapsing economy, and the kibosh on human connection.

Coping with all this is hard for the normal brain, but what about those of us who already have pre-existing anxiety disorders? Where do we turn to muddle through?

Wine seems like an obvious answer, though probably not a healthy one. More effective options to consider:

Rely on a therapist: Thanks to telehealth, most clients are still able to meet with their therapists on a regular basis (if you don’t already have one, get one!). When the clinician takes insurance, telehealth should be covered. Many of the most popular insurers aren’t only accepting virtual claims, but they’re actively looking for ways to broaden their telemedicine offerings.

Take a step back from the negative: Does the news feel perpetually dire?  Are you fed up with Facebook and the guy who sat behind you in tenth grade geometry spewing doom and gloom all over the pages? Is your sister convinced the world is ending? Take a break from whatever (and whomever) has a negative impact on your own psychology. Detach with love, and don’t apologize.

Stay the Course: If you’re actively trying to manage your anxiety disorder, then you might already be engaging in practices to help yourself. Maybe your habits include mindful meditation or deep breathing. Maybe you’re all about positive self-talk or exposure and response prevention exercises. Whatever is in your arsenal, make sure you stay the course and don’t allow external chaos to sever your focus. You need to engage in your wellness practices now more than ever.

Be Your Own Expert: If the coronavirus has taught us anything, it’s that everyone’s an expert. Yet the only place to find the expert on you is to look in the mirror. You are the most qualified person to know what you need, whether that’s a walk in nature or a yoga session or the pages of a good book or a day binge watching Big Little Lies. You’re the best person to help yourself….and you have the most vested interest in doing so.

Manage Your Expectations: Calmness. Serenity. Peace of mind. What do all of these things have in common? None of them apply to a global pandemic. We’re living in trying, uncertain, and downright scary times. And, while there’s light at the end of the tunnel, no one knows when this will truly be over. We also don’t know what the word will look like when it is.

So, it’s okay to be afraid and worried and lonely. It’s okay to be frustrated and confused and on edge. It’s okay to feel whatever you feel. You’re not overreacting; you’re human.

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