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Anxiety and the Pandemic: How you can understand and help yourself

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Anxiety and Stress during a Pandemic

We are not living in ordinary times. Anxiety grows. Our reasonable adaptations for stress may not serve us well when stressors comes every day and sometimes ever hour. We suffer emotionally when the stability of our economics, our politics, our relationships, our health, our physical safety and the safety of those we love is continually threatened. Finding balance and reasonableness can be difficult or impossible. 

When we live in a pandemic of disease we also live in a pandemic of anxiety. Tempers flare. Tears pour. Relationships suffer. Self-awareness dims and self-doubt increases. Old coping mechanisms for stress control like binge eating, smoking, drinking alcohol, raging, binge watching, shopping, hoarding return.

These behaviors signal that your normal coping behaviors don't work in abnormal conditions.  

Opportunity to grow through anxiety and find your balance

If you have an eight-ounce glass to catch seven ounces of water, all is well. But that glass can’t handle ten ounces of water. Spill happens causing mlld or major disruption. At times, if you are under a waterfall, the eight-ounce glass is completely irrelevant. You and everything you know and care about is pummeled and washed away.

You are suffering and lack the ability to recognize or resolve your anxiety. You are using desperate methods to quell anxiety. If you use ineffective methods to help yourself feel better you may creates a pattern where you double down on what doesn't work.  You may binge more, rage more, drink more. Such futile behaviors add to your fears of helplessness and unworthiness.

If you wake up to the failure of these methods you are not at a loss. Awareness is a win. You now know that everything you are doing to end your anxiety is not working.

Such awareness allows you to give up on what doesn’t work and turn to new paths leading to strength, competence, and renewal.

Anxiety levels before and during pandemic

All the growth and development you achieved in your life equipped you to live in the pre pandemic world. Now, as anxiety and stress bear down harder than ever, you need more more growth and development.  After all, you don't build a boat to sail on a lake and expect it to function well in the open ocean.

This is a time to  strengthen or redesign your vehicle and travel in this new environment.

One source of help is psychotherapy. It’s time to bring your mind, spirit, and body to a kind, nourishing and healing environment so you can develop what you need now.

Recognize the effects of stress

The Mayo Clinic gives us this list of stress effects: If you are experiencing any of these effects, please reach out for the help you need.  You can grow through your anxiety, even during a pandemic, and live a more rich, satisfying, and competent life.

STRESS EFFECTS (Mayo Clinic)

On your body

On your mood

On your behavior

Headache

Anxiety

Overeating or undereating

Muscle tension or pain

Restlessness

Angry outbursts

Chest pain

Lack of motivation or focus

Drug or alcohol misuse

Fatigue

Feeling overwhelmed

Tobacco use

Change in sex drive

Irritability or anger

Social withdrawal

Stomach upset

Sadness or depression

Exercising less often

Sleep problems

 

 

Mayo Clinic

The term "Stress Pandemic" was introduced to me by Marie Campion, therapist and director of Marinotherapycentre.com in Dublin, Ireland and author of Hope: Understanding Eating Disorders.

Joanna Poppink, MFT, private practice psychotherapist, E-mail for free telephone consultation. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Book: Healing Your Hungry Heart: recovering from your eating disorder

pix; by Marc Chagall, Tel Aviv Museum


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