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Managing Pandemic-Related Anxiety

Practical tips and guidelines.

Key points

  • Allow yourself time to grieve lost experiences.
  • Try to accept the parts of life that have changed.
  • It's natural to have mixed feelings about the process of returning to "normal."

Many tips can help manage pandemic-related anxiety; many are reflective of resilience skills that we have discussed over the years on this blog.

The first is to recognize and accept that things will change. Many people have said that life is just a long chain of temporaries. There are very few permanents in our life whether we like that or not. Embracing change is what we need to learn to do, especially during the pandemic where direction regarding the pandemic and self-care may change from one day to the next.

It is helpful to make changes as slowly as possible to reduce feeling overwhelmed. Some things require immediate action; others do not. Try to discriminate between the two. Not everything is a priority.

Allow yourself to grieve and experience the losses that the pandemic has created, whether it is the loss of a job, of close friends, of family, or of a routine that you loved and enjoyed each day.

Understand and accept that you may have mixed feelings about returning to "normal" and that these feelings are okay and to be expected. Once again, things will change and perhaps the change back to something approaching normal will overall be good. We may have gotten used to working at home and spending more time with the family. This may change if we have to return to the office. Try to hang on to the positive things that may have occurred during the pandemic.

Identify opportunities and chances to "redo" missed milestones. The birthday party you couldn't have or that your children couldn't have. The anniversary celebration. The celebration of life that you could not give a family member during the pandemic. It Is never too late to celebrate these things and to "redo them."

Accept that you may have to develop new strategies to balance work and home life. You have had to do this to survive during the pandemic. You may have to do this a number of times in the future.

When returning to activities and social interactions that you had to give up during the pandemic, start small. Take your time, yet do reconnect and reengage. Life goes on and you should too. Do this gradually. Don't overwhelm yourself.

Continue to be aware of your safety concerns and plan how you interact with others. The pandemic is not in the rearview mirror yet and may not be for some time. Whether we like it or not, social distancing and masking are still important to do in many settings.

Be sure to practice self-care such as exercising on a regular basis, eating well, getting adequate sleep, and relaxing. This, as before, is important and for many has been neglected during the pandemic. Find ways to exercise at home. Don't overeat. Don't stay up to the wee hours of the night. Keep a routine for yourself. And remember to relax.