The Taconic Counseling Group

Marsha L. Shelov, Ph.D.

Anxiety in the Age of COVID-19

We are currently living in a time of pandemic in which we are, again, fearful for ourselves, our loved ones, and the state of our country and the world. Most of us remember where we were and how we learned about 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, or some other very frightening event. We recall these events because they were highly emotionally charged. In the face of this world wide event, it is appropriate to be fearful and worried; worried about how to protect ourselves and our loved ones, and about all of the unknowns we are facing.

In our understanding, there are at least two aspects of this situation to manage. One is, what we can actively do to protect and take care of ourselves; and the other is, how to manage our feelings and thoughts about things that are out of our control. The first of these worries/fears can be considered the things we can do something about: how to keep from getting sick, how to keep our family safe, how to get food, and how to manage the finances. In this category of fears, there are steps one can take to reduce these fears. We can do all that we can to keep healthy. These steps, such as washing ones hands, not touching ones face, maintaining social distance and wearing a mask, do help. There are also government programs being put in place to help with the extraordinary financial strains on families. Strictly following the recommended guidelines, in fact, does help in maintaining safety in your circle of family, and by extension, helps the greater community. In addition, researching the programs that exist in your community and state to offset financial strain, can help. if you do not know about these programs, google financial relief in NY.

The second aspect is how to manage the anxious feelings that occur in the face of the events that are not under our control. First of all, it is normal to develop a sense of foreboding or anxiety in the current situation. The feelings of anxiety are unpleasant; a rapid heart beat, a sense of dread, insomnia, stomach aches, and sweating are some of the body’s response to anxiety. We all need to remember that these feelings are not facts. We feel worried but do not, yet, know what will actually happen. The accompanying thoughts regarding the future of the unknown can lead to a runaway train of horrible thoughts about events that have not yet occurred. It is hard to hold onto uncertainty as helpful, but we must do that so that we do not conclude what our fear would dictate. When we are afraid, we can conclude, as if our fear knows, when we do not actually know. So, finding ways to calm the worry is essential to feeling better as well as waiting to find out what will happen. Our own thoughts and behaviors in response to anxiety can contribute to, or help alleviate, that feeling of anxiety. The following suggestions are ways to manage to try to manage your feelings of anxiety.

One thing to remember, however, as we go through this, is that the entire scientific and medical communities of the world are devoting their best scientists to developing the treatment and vaccinations for Co-vid 19. The above are practices to try on your own. In you have questions, call us for a free discussion about coping with this complicated situation. 845-896-7787 ext 1. Ask for a free personal discussion.