Coping with Anxiety During a Pandemic is Possible

anxiety disorder

Yesterday, The Washington Post reported that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases climbed over 1 million. Today, 245,573 have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the United States, and 6,058 Americans have passed away from virus-related health complications. Sadly, the U.S. has more infections than any other country, and the trend will continue, according to public health experts.

At Hemet Valley Recovery Center, we feel it our duty to help people in addiction recovery and with mental health disorders navigate life during a pandemic. This public health crisis has changed the way we live in innumerable ways.

A few weeks ago, few people had heard the words social and distancing said together. Now, we are all familiar with self-quarantines and keeping six feet away from each other (social distancing). We are living in a state of fear for ourselves and loved ones; it’s hard to avoid feeling vulnerable and overly anxious.

As many of you know, the states of mind mentioned above can be detrimental to people in recovery and those with pre-existing anxiety disorders. Today, utilizing coping mechanisms is more vital than ever for those in recovery.

Isolation can lead your mind to wander, and negative thoughts can arise as a result. As such, millions of people are at risk of relapse and a decline in mental well-being. Hopefully, you are keeping in constant contact with your support network and calling your sponsor and therapist (if needed) to discuss your emotions and symptoms of anxiety. Moreover, it’s important that members of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous take part in online meetings by way of video conferencing.

If you follow the suggestions laid out above, then you’re better able to protect your mental health and recovery. Remember, you are not alone; we are all dealing with life during a pandemic together despite being physically away from each other. Such reminders can be of great comfort when angst or depression crop up.

Coping with Anxiety Disorders

More than half of people in recovery are believed to have a co-occurring mental illness (dual diagnosis). On top of maintaining a program of recovery, many people have to keep mental health disorder symptoms at bay. Achieving the goals stated above amid a pandemic is challenging.

If you have an anxiety disorder – are in addiction recovery or not – it’s understandable if you’re dealing with more angst. This is an unprecedented time in our life; coping with anxiety is challenging when life is normal; life today is anything but usual.

Dr. John Sharp, a board-certified psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, offers some beneficial advice about coping with anxiety during a public health crisis. His helpful tips could assist you in managing your symptoms and protect your recovery. Dr. Sharp states on the Harvard Health Blog:

“Separating out feelings from the past, reminding yourself that you have the strength and ability in the present to prevail, seeing a path forward for yourself and setting yourself upon that path is the way forward. If along that way you should stumble and fall, picture yourself as able to pick yourself back up and carry on. Reassure yourself that the basic provisions for your safety and well-being are within your power to meet.” 

He suggests that people with anxiety disorders work toward separating where your feelings are coming from by saying to yourself, “Of course, I’m more concerned than (my roommate/my friend/my family), because I’m practiced at feeling anxious or helpless.”

The next step is recognizing that the feelings that stem from the past don’t have to dictate how you feel today. He suggests saying out loud: “Well that was then, this is now.” The psychiatrist believes that the above action can provide much relief.

Dr. Sharp adds that it’s vital to separate your past from your present, gently. Tell yourself that you have the tools to manage your condition during these trying times and cope with your “feelings and reactions” in the present. Moreover, it’s crucial that you be kind to yourself.

Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment Hospital

If you or someone you care about is struggling with addiction and/or co-occurring mental illness, then please reach out to HVRC. We are unique in being a Chemical Dependency Rehabilitation Hospital (CDRH). Our clients benefit from having access to over 185 physicians in a variety of medical fields. Take the first step today by calling (866) 273-0868.