Anxiety During COVID-19
Relationships are key to helping one another during a crisis.
Posted May 10, 2020
Anxiety as a result of COVID-19 is quite prevalent. This anxiety is a result of the dangers to one’s health, a relative’s, or a friend’s health. In addition, the economic dislocation affects too many of us: we may survive, but will we be able to sustain ourselves financially?
How can we help one another and help our children? In a previous post, I discussed ways to help our children (How Parents Can Help Their Children During the Pandemic: Stop, Look, and Listen). In this post, I highlight ways that adults can help one another.
Relationships are key to helping one another during a crisis
Twelve suggestions to help one another master their anxious feelings
- First and foremost, listen. When someone is anxious and wants to share, they are looking for a listening ear. Listening to someone else can often be very beneficial to one’s own sense of mastery.
- Do not minimize your partner’s, friend’s, or relative’s anxiety. Do not say something like, "There is nothing to worry about."
- If your partner/friend/relative is ruminating about the pandemic and/or the quarantine allow him/her to voice the nature of his/her fear: his/her own illness, a relative’s illness, death, anger at authorities.
- Ask your partner/friend/relative if he/she is aware what aspect of the situation triggered the anxiety or panic right now. For example, was there a particular event that occurred?
- If there is a particular event, one can discuss with your partner/friend/relative his or her emotion/s regarding that event.
- If there is no particular event, recommend to your partner/friend/relative that it is best to accept the feeling for what it is, and try to avoid the rumination trap. Acceptance of one’s emotions is very helpful.
- Discuss with your partner/friend/relative how his/her anxiety decreased or stopped in the past. Whether help has been some physical event, like slow breathing, sipping milk, tea, or some reappraisal of his/her perspective.
- Help your partner/friend/relative reflect on the events/people that intensify the anxiety. Can he/she think of a different approach? For example, reinforce his/her own judgment about the best way to approach future plans: positive aspects, how to deal with negative events, with whom to partner, etc.
- Most importantly, don’t promote your partner/friend/relative to suppress his/her negative emotion, such as anger. That is very unhealthy in the long run. Again, acceptance of one’s emotion is very important.
- Promote using mature defense mechanisms such as humor, becoming involved in a task or a project, promoting one’s own creativity, helping other people (altruism).
- Promote relationships with compatible people, whether in person, or long distance. We are social animals and need connections with one another.
- If need be, recommending a professional might be useful.