Inner Growth Therapy Services

How to Manage Stress and Anxiety During COVID-19

Here we are, in a situation most of us never imagined. The picture of the therapy sign at the end, is a sign that I created and hung on my door at home. The Corona Virus is impacting all of us in many aspects of our lives. I never desired to provide Telehealth services from home and certainly didn’t think it would be a necessity to do when all six of us are home together. But adapt we must and my priority is to offer clients continued services if they want them, so to a bedroom I go with a sign on the door warning the kids not to come in.

Covid-19 is a topic of conversation in every therapy session I have and it is most likely a topic on all of our minds throughout the day. Here in Illinois, we currently have a shelter in place order. Like many other states in the country, residents are being asked to stay at home barring essential travel to the grocery, doctor, pharmacy, walking outside for exercise, etc. Schools are closed and people who have never worked from home are doing so now. There are those who cannot work from home and are continuing to go to work every day. Some of these individuals are exposing themselves to illness due to the nature of their jobs. And of course there are those who have lost their jobs due to the virus.

I could write for hours about all of the changes we are experiencing and all of the ways in which these changes can affect each of us. But the truth is I would never be able to identify each way everyone’s individual life is being affected. Right now, there is a laundry list of concerns that each of us can be experiencing. If you look hard at many of these reasons, the main theme is uncertainty. The stress that we don’t know how long these changes will be a part of our lives and not knowing how they will impact our futures. Aspects of uncertainty in our lives can bring a lot of anxiety and stress.

Now let’s add in the fact that many of us are walking around with “full plates” already. I share with clients often in session that we walk around with a plate of responsibilities, worries and stress that we manage throughout our days. During sessions we often investigate what is on that platter/plate and how we can either reorganize, remove things, challenge mindsets that fill plates, etc. So imagine you have the regular sized plate you normally carry and now comes Covid-19 and it has just dumped an enormous amount of items onto that already full plate! You now have a lot of reorganizing to do on your plate in order to be able to manage your daily life. How do you do that?

First is to practice some self empathy and kindness. It is no wonder you are feeling overwhelmed given the full plate example I just shared. You have a lot more to balance all of a sudden. It is okay to feel however you are feeling! Another way is to take inventory of what is causing you stress. Within those, note which ones you have control over and which ones you do not. Try to remain focused on the things you do have control over. Examples of things you can control are things like washing your hands, maintaining social distance when leaving the house, limiting the times you leave the home, the amount of time on social media as well as the types of social media/news you take in, practicing self care, etc. One good thing about this happening to all of us is that many places are offering online yoga, exercise classes, movies, museum tours, etc. Some things being offered may be a type of self care that can be helpful for you. I often recommend Apps such as Shine and Breath. They offer great ways with free options to bring some positive, encouraging words as well as meditation options.

There are many things right now that you cannot control. You cannot control others or the way they are reacting to the virus and you can’t control the future. Using some grounding techniques also can help with those “snowball” worries that take on a life of their own if you feed them. The “whats ifs.” What if I get sick, what if my parents get sick, what if I lose all my money for retirement, what if I can’t pay the mortgage.” All of these are real fears in an uncertain time, but careful what you give attention and care to. These fears will continue to grow and take over your days. Remember to stay in the present and focus on the things that you can control.

As far as therapy sessions, I know that online sessions aren’t the same. I feel that too. But it’s the best we have for now in order to keep everyone as safe as possible. As soon as I can go back to office sessions, I will do so. But until then, I’m at home and happy to see my clients online on a secure and HIPAA compliant platform. There are lots of changes, don’t focus on the mountain of changes, focus on a little section at a time….. “you got this!” (some of you knew I had to say that). Stay healthy!