VigR® Chat — Tips to Manage Our Anxiety in the Time of Coronavirus
COVID-19 Is Threatening
This pandemic has ramped up anxiety for those who already struggled with it. And it has ignited new anxieties for those who have not dealt with it before. It makes sense. The purpose of anxiety is to alert us to a threat. And COVID is certainly threatening. It is important to understand that this emotion we label “anxiety” is normal right now. Despite it being normal, I know it can feel upsetting and uncomfortable. That’s why I want to teach you about managing your anxiety in the time of coronavirus.
Ways to Help Manage Anxiety
You may have heard about cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a type of talk therapy that focuses on examining how our thoughts impact our behaviors. This form of therapy has been shown to be quite effective in reducing anxiety.
Let’s explore some ways we can use CBT on our own, and even complement the help you can receive from a therapist!
Tip #1: Think of a Rational Counter Statement
The first trick is to counter an anxiety producing thought with a rational counter statement. For example, an anxiety producing thought may be: “If I leave my house, I will contract coronavirus and become very sick”. A rational counter statement could look like: “If I wear a mask and sanitize and wash my hands per important advice from the CDC, I can reduce my risk of getting sick”.
Now you try. What is an anxiety provoking thought that has been on your mind? How can you counter that thought rationally?
Tip #2: Use the ABC Model of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Next, we’re going to look briefly at the ABC model of cognitive behavioral therapy. This model says that an activating event (A) causes us to develop a belief (B) that has consequences (C) for our feelings or behaviors. Here is an example for COVID-19.
1.The activating event (A) is the pandemic.
2.The pandemic causes me to develop a belief (B) that I can no longer exercise since I don’t feel safe going to my gym.
3.This belief has consequences (C) . Perhaps giving up an exercise routine causes weight gain for me, impacts my mental health or my cholesterol levels.
So what does the ABC model say about making change and managing anxiety? It recommends disputing the belief and effecting a new belief.
In the scenario I shared, I may dispute the belief by telling myself: “Sure, I don’t feel comfortable going to the gym. However that doesn’t mean I need to give up exercising. I will go for a walk, bike ride, or do exercise videos at home”. Next, I effect that belief by putting it into practice.
Tip #3: Challenge Core Beliefs
Here’s one last CBT method you can try to manage your anxiety. This method involves challenging your core beliefs. Core beliefs are the values we hold that influence how we interpret our experiences. When core beliefs are negative, they can become anxiety provoking.
Say I ask a friend to meet in the park for a socially distant get together, and my friend declines. My negative core belief may tell me, “I guess my friend doesn’t miss seeing me.”. This negative core belief has a consequence. The consequence may be that I stop asking this friend to get together. Or perhaps I stop reaching out to any of my friends, negatively assuming that no one wants to see me.
The next step in this exercise involves listing evidence contrary to my negative core belief. These pieces of evidence could be:
1. My friend just told me she misses me.
2. 2. I know my friend is feeling extremely anxious about seeing anyone, even socially distanced.
3. 3. My friend mentioned it has been too hot (or cold) for her to enjoy being outside.
Methods Take Practice – Find One that Fits You Best
These three methods take practice, and there may be one or two that fit better for you than the others. I encourage you to see which feels best and give it a try. Take notice if your new practice has an impact on your anxiety.
The Pandemic Shouldn’t Last Forever
Remember, the pandemic shouldn’t last forever. I hope that both Friends Life Care members and friends found some helpful tips in this post. Leave a comment below to let me know what you plan to put into practice.
A Note: For Friends Life Care Members
Friends Life Care’s team of Wellness and Care Coordinators works together to help members like you achieve the important goal of thriving as you age in place. In the VigR Chats series, we hear from the Wellness and Care Coordinators on a variety of topics that focus on vitality, independence, growth and resilience. Reading this post can help you to learn about managing anxiety caused by COVID-19.
Members – please know that your Friends Life Care Wellness and Care Coordinators are here to support you if you are feeling anxious. Reach out. Be safe. Stay well!
Katie Starrantino, LCSW, M.Ed, CDP
Katie has been working in the medical field for 10 years. During this time she has assisted in meeting the psychosocial needs of individuals living with cancer, rehabilitation patients, nursing home residents, primary care patients and individuals with a dementia diagnosis. She is a licensed clinical social worker who holds a masters degree in social work from West Chester University, a masters degree in human sexuality from Widener University, and she is a certified dementia practitioner. Katie enjoys forming relationships with her members and assisting to keep them happy and healthy.
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