Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less. - Marie Curie
When it comes to anxiety, there are several reasons why we may experience it. For many people, health anxiety is an everyday nuisance. If you consistently feel anxious or worried about your health, then you know just how crippling the feeling can be.
Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic began, you may have worsening health anxiety. Even a mere sneeze or cough can send you down a rabbit-hole of worry, and it’s hard to find your way back out.
With news of a coronavirus spreading, you may feel helpless in trying to fight your health anxiety. Fortunately, there are things you can do to calm your nerves and cope with your anxiety.
1. Understand the Facts
When COVID-19 first spread, we didn’t have much information about it. The symptoms we knew of were limited and general, such as a dry cough and fever. We now have much more information about it, and we should use this to our advantage when calming fears about the new variant.
While this new variant does seem to be more transmissible, it isn’t more deadly. By taking the same precautions that you’ve already been doing — like wearing a mask and social distancing — you’re protecting yourself from the new strain.
Furthermore, no evidence indicates that the new variant impacts the COVID-19 vaccine. Evidence suggests that the vaccines will protect against mutations such as this one.
It’s easy to let your mind get carried away with fearsome information. When you see a headline about a new, more contagious variant, you aren’t getting the full story. By understanding the facts and information that we have, you protect yourself from unnecessary fear and worry.
2. Practice Mindfulness
Even when you have all the facts, it can be hard to stop anxious thoughts. When your mind is racing, mindfulness may help deter worrisome thoughts. You can start by trying the 5-4-3-2-1 mindfulness method.
When you feel anxious about your health, take a step back and put those thoughts to the side. Instead, focus on five things that you can see. Next, concentrate on four things that you can feel — it could be a surface, the fabric of your shirt, or the skin on your hands. Then, note three things that you can hear, followed by two things that you can smell. And finally, fixate on a single thing that you can taste.
By the end of this mindfulness exercise, you have accomplished a few things. First, you’ve grounded yourself back into the present moment. Second, you’ve effectively stopped your anxious thoughts and have forced your brain to focus on something else. This technique is useful for any anxiety — when you feel it coming on, turn to mindfulness.
3. Change What You’re Focusing On
When you experience anxiety, you may notice that you lock-in on it. When it comes to health, you may fixate on negative news stories. You may start to feel like you’re experiencing symptoms yourself, which makes you worry even more.
When you notice this happen, find a new thing to focus on. You could start by cleaning a room in your house, trying out a new recipe, or doing a crossword puzzle. These activities are enjoyable, and they take just enough critical thinking to distract your brain from anxious thoughts.
When you have anxiety, it’s easy to get wrapped up in your fears. By finding a healthy, productive activity to focus on, you’re doing both your brain and your body several favours.
Finding Help for Anxiety
While the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted our focus to physical health, it doesn’t mean that mental health should be on the back-burner. These strategies are helpful as short-term coping mechanisms, but you consider seeking help for long-term anxiety.
With the guidance of a therapist, you can learn more strategies for coping with health anxiety. It’s okay to be anxious because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the new variant. However, your life doesn’t have to be consumed by anxiety.
Reach out today for anxiety support and start to see a brighter, more hopeful future.
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