The COVID-19 pandemic might be nearing an end. But, the mental health effects caused by the pandemic continue to linger – and may cause issues for years.
This pandemic was unlike anything most of us have ever seen before. Because of the fast-paced, technology-forward world we’re living in, it received endless media attention. It was discussed online, through social media, on major news outlets, and so much more. Simply put, hearing about it every day has been unavoidable.
So, even as restrictions are easing and life is getting back to “normal,” it’s not easy for everyone to jump back into a reality they once knew.
The country is now facing a mental health crisis, instead of a physical one, thanks to COVID anxiety syndrome. But, what is it, exactly? More importantly, how can you cope with it if you’re struggling?
What is COVID Anxiety Syndrome?
Because we were inundated with information about the COVID-19 virus for over a year, it became a way of life. Terms like “quarantine”, “lockdown”, and “social distancing” became the norm, whether we liked it or not.
Now as things start to reopen, it’s difficult to let that lifestyle go. COVID was and still is, quite frightening, and that’s what everyone was told for a very long time.
COVID anxiety syndrome is the fear of leaving the house or contracting the virus. You might be worried about going to the store, getting on public transit, or even being around friends. You might also find yourself frequently checking for symptoms of the virus and worrying you might have it.
This syndrome can lead to extreme issues with anxiety and can contribute to other mental health issues if it isn’t addressed.
What Causes It?
Some people may have a stronger predisposition than others when it comes to developing a syndrome like this. It tends to affect those with certain personality traits, including:
- High neuroticism
Individuals who deal with OCD are also often at a greater risk. There is no one “cause” or specific type of person that can develop this syndrome. It can occur in anyone. But, if you have these existing traits, you could be at a greater risk of experiencing anxiety in a post-pandemic world.
What Can You Do?
Coping with COVID anxiety isn’t impossible. After all, you want to eventually get back out into the world, right? No one wants to feel scared and anxious forever, and you don’t have to. There are a few everyday tips that can make dealing with this syndrome easier for you.
First, choose to consume the right kind of media. COVID might not be getting the spotlight attention it once did. But, it’s still being talked about on almost all major news networks and online. Seek out positive news surrounding the virus. That might include the success of the vaccine rollout, or case numbers going down. The more confident and comfortable you feel about the virus waning, the easier it will be to step out into the world.
You can also feel better about returning to normal by taking things slowly and continuing to protect yourself. Some people have been anxious to “get out” for over a year.
But, just because others are gathering, going out, and spending time in large groups doesn’t mean you have to. Start slow and ease back into a sense of normalcy. Protect yourself with a mask if it makes you feel more comfortable, and take care of your physical health as much as possible.
If you’re still struggling with COVID anxiety syndrome, know you’re not alone. While these coping mechanisms can help, you might benefit from talking to a mental health professional. Feel free to contact us if the fear of returning to normal is still lingering. Together, we’ll get to the bottom of that fear and work on more ways to cope each day.