Anxiety & COVID-19

May 12, 2020

In the world of COVID-19, change and uncertainty impacts every human on earth. On one hand, we know we're all in this together. On the other hand, we may feel alone and isolated. Whether you're an essential worker, working from home, laid off, furloughed, unemployed, learning to be a teacher for your kids, or any other host of dispositions, life is constantly and drastically changing all around us. Cities, and entire countries, are shutting down to flatten the curve and reduce the spread of coronavirus, and even though this is vital for our safety, we are all in uncharted territory, and are bracing for changes that have yet to come. Living in a constant state of uncertainty will weigh down anyone, and if you struggle with anxiety, its more important now than ever to ensure your mental health is a priority. Thankfully, there is help, and there is hope.

I want to emphasize to anyone reading this that your feelings are valid. Right now, what most of us once thought of as “normal” no longer truly applies.  You may feel sad, anxious, helpless, lonely, overwhelmed, irritable, fearful, agitated, stuck, distracted, unmotivated. Tasks that were previously manageable may now seem unmanageable. You may be unable to get restful sleep, and many are experiencing very vivid dreams or nightmares. You may be finding it harder to stay productive, engaged, or focused during your daily routine. All of these feelings contribute to mounting stress and anxiety that demands to be addressed – but how? We’re in luck! Communities around the world have worked to provide meaningful tips and skills to manage anxiety and stress during COVID-19. Here are some of the most common suggestions.

  • Limit your media exposure (social media, local news, or national news). Find your news updates from trustworthy sources such as the CDC and the WHO, or your local public health authorities. Limit how often you check for updates, and limit how long you read about them.
  • Recognize what is and is not within your control. Do your best to focus on the actions you can take – stay home, wear a mask, wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, maintain appropriate social distance if you must leave the house, practice self-care, etc.
  • Be kind, forgiving, and compassionate with yourself. It’s okay not to be okay. There is no “right” way to deal with this.
  • Maintain a routine to the best of your ability. Moving all of our daily activities into our homes during quarantine has blurred the lines between work, school, and home. Routines help us reestablish those lines and boundaries.
  • Move your body. Take a walk outside, look online for exercise videos that are easy to do from home, stretch frequently. Exercise releases chemicals in the body that improve our ability to combat stress and anxiety.
  • Stay connected with loved ones, even from home. One of the biggest struggles of COVID-19 and mental health is learning how to live with feeling isolated and alone. Check out our blog post about Coping with Isolation for more helpful tips.
  • Practice self-care consistently, and recognize when you need help. Many therapists and treatment providers, including those of us at Jefferson Oaks Behavioral Health, are providing telemental health services to help you stay connected while prioritizing the safety of all.
Most of us will experience days or weeks where we truly struggle to cope with our worries and anxieties on our own, which is why I also want to urge you to open up. Whatever is happening in your mind right now, speak up, be honest with yourself, and with others. Many fear they will be a burden to their loved ones if they speak up, but more often than not, the opposite is true. When our loved ones hear us speak our truth and express our pain and fear, it shows them they can do the same. Vulnerability is not weakness  - it is courageous – and when we share it with others, its contagious.

“Conversations will not be cancelled.
Relationships will not be cancelled.
Love will not be cancelled.
Songs will not be cancelled.
Reading will not be cancelled.
Self-care will not be cancelled.
Hope will not be cancelled.

May we lean into the good stuff that remains.”
-Jamie Tworkowski, founder of To Write Love On Her Arms

For additional tools, tips, resources, articles, and education about COVID-19, mental health, and recovery efforts, please visit our COVID-19 resource page at