Anxiety During a Pandemic

I don’t need to tell you that 2020 has been a bad year. For those of us with anxiety, it’s been challenging to work on ourselves effectively. The most difficult part for me personally has been coping with the fact that the things that have triggered my anxiety in the past, like going to the store or being in crowds, are legitimately dangerous these days. On top of that I, like many people, have lost access to a lot of the things I use to not only cope, but to actively continue to work on myself.

That’s not to say I haven’t tried. While I’ve switched to ordering groceries online, I still try to venture out to the store when I can. I take precautions, I wear a mask, I don’t touch my face, and when I get home I wash my hands thoroughly and disinfect my phone, so I am as safe as I can possibly be. Would I be safer and feel better just staying at home and never going to the store? Yes, but as we know avoiding a situation will only allow the anxiety about it to build.

The hardest thing to face in this particular fight is that we simply can’t do exposure the way we’d do it normally, and this is especially true for those of us who have anxiety about the things Covid has affected. So many of the exposure strategies that we’d use are either impossible or impractical during a pandemic, and it’s incredibly frustrating and scary.

The uncertainty of the future state of the world and whether we can come out the other end as functional as we went in is terrifying. We can’t let that get to us, we can’t let that stop us from doing whatever we can to keep our heads above water. Go for a walk. Get together with friends and family in small groups. Our goals right now should just be getting out of the house no matter what, and do it safely.

Most importantly, we have to be kind to ourselves. Anxiety is running high among everyone right now, and we have to accept that things have been difficult and will continue to be difficult for a while. We’re not going to have wins every day, and that’s ok. What matters is getting up the next day and trying again. Maybe we come out of this with some more struggles to overcome, but we will overcome them. We did it before, and we still have the tools to do it again.