Self-isolation and lockdowns are among the various coronavirus containment measures implemented across the globe. While they do a good job of slowing the spread, they also present new challenges for people suffering from mental disorders. This article will help you cope if you’re experiencing anxiety during lockdown. How does isolation worsen anxiety, and what tips can you follow to improve your condition?
What’s The Relationship Between Isolation and Anxiety?
If you have anxiety, you might also have a hard time engaging in social interactions. You might be intensely aware of other people’s perceived thoughts and opinions about you. With time, you’ll most likely start avoiding all types of social gatherings and retreat further into isolation. Although this state of solitude sounds like a relief, it doesn’t necessarily help in treating the underlying disorder. Isolation is both a cause and a symptom of anxiety. If you dread social interactions, it will cause you to avoid them altogether, which will, in turn, intensify your anxiety during lockdown.
A lockdown might sound like the perfect opportunity to avoid dreaded social interactions, but it might only make things worse. Your worries tend to follow you and grow worse during isolation. Humans need some form of social support to cultivate healthy relationships and thrive. Other than social anxiety, the lockdown might trigger other forms of this disorder. They are panic disorder, OCD, PTSD, and generalized anxiety disorder. Co-occurring disorders include ADHD, sleep disorders, substance use, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, and eating disorders.
How to Handle Anxiety During Lockdown
The following guidelines will help you cope better with anxiety during the lockdown, as well as its associated conditions:
1) Improve Your Productivity
The more productive you are, the harder it is to dwell on negative thoughts that make you anxious. Some people experience mental exhaustion in isolation, which makes it hard to concentrate on tasks. Creating a to-do list is a great way of improving productivity. It defines activities that will keep you busy and gives you a feeling of satisfaction once you cross them off. They could range from preparing a simple meal to a more complex DIY project. The sense of accomplishment you feel gives you the confidence to take on bigger challenges.
2) Avoid Misinformation
Although COVID-19 updates are helpful, you should only receive them from official channels. Some of the unverified information and opinions about the pandemic might worsen your anxiety. Information overload can cause analysis paralysis, which makes it hard to move forward both in thought and action. The constant and alarming news is likely to trigger panic attacks. Take some time off from the nonstop news cycle to make room for independent, rational thoughts.
3) Take Care of Your Body
Just as your mind influences physical activities, your physical health is also an indicator of mental wellbeing. During lockdown, you might feel more inclined to read, listen to audiobooks, watch tutorials, and perform other mentally nourishing activities. While this is helpful, you shouldn’t ignore physical workouts. Even without access to a gym, there are several home-friendly exercises you can engage in. They include Yoga, HIIT, calisthenics, martial arts, and dance-based workouts.
Physical workouts improve blood flow to the brain, which helps you think more clearly. They also stimulate chemicals such as serotonin and endorphins that improve your mood, memory, and learning capability. Physically healthy individuals tend to sleep better, which helps in combating stress, anxiety, and other mental disorders. A better physique also boosts your self-esteem, which reduces your self-consciousness and anxiety.
4) Focus On Your Hobbies
Now that you have the time, you can pick up new skills or rediscover some that you once enjoyed. According to research, people with hobbies have lower rates of mental disorders than those that don’t. There are several activities you can engage in to fight anxiety during lockdown. They include photography, music, writing, arts and crafts, dancing, swimming, cooking, and gardening. A hobby can be academic, creative, athletic, or something nondescript but which gives you immense satisfaction.
5) Concentrate On the Present
Your anxiety is partly fueled by thoughts about the past and future. Are you always thinking about how differently you could have done some things? Are you worried about how things will turn out? On top of your normal concerns, the pandemic has put many plans on hold. Some people have lost jobs and paused their education, among many other unexpected setbacks. The prevailing uncertainty could trigger anxious feelings regarding how a post-COVID world will look like.
As much as you’re tempted to dwell on these negative aspects, focus on what you can control. You can still determine how you behave, the people you interact with, and how you get and consume information. Take the opportunity to improve yourself in every possible way to be ready for the world once the pandemic passes.
6) Share Your Concerns
It’s normal to feel like you’re alone in your fight against anxiety during lockdown. Sharing your fears and concerns with others in similar situations helps reassure you that you can overcome them. Your confidants can range from trusted family members to friends and social media groups that specialize in mental health issues.
There are also several helplines and non-profit initiatives you can contact for counseling. MentalHealth.gov has excellent resources on getting help for mental health issues. Other supportive organizations include the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and Mental Health America.
7) Help Others in Similar Situations
Several people suffer anxiety during lockdown without even realizing it. As someone who lives with this condition, you can empathize and help them manage it better. Helping others plays a huge role in your healing process. Some people feel better by merely knowing that someone else understands what they’re going through. Other ways of assisting include offering links to mental health resources and tips on how you deal with your anxiety.
This support is especially crucial for vulnerable members of society. They include teenagers, struggling parents, and economically disadvantaged people. Most of them either can’t afford professional help or don’t think they need it. If they’re initially resistant to your offer, don’t force it. Be patient, express your concerns, take your time to listen, and reassure them that everything will be alright.
8) Get Professional Help
Professional mental health care from an accredited practice offers you the best treatment option. Unlike medication which mainly treats the symptoms, anxiety therapy goes a step further. It seeks to identify the root cause of your disorder, which can result in permanent healing. One of the most successful solutions is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). It evaluates how your negative thoughts contribute to anxiety while examining how you react to situations that trigger the disorder.
CBT teaches you how to challenge these negative, anxiety-inducing thoughts and replace them with more rational ones. Exposure therapy is another useful treatment option. Anxiety causes you to avoid situations that trigger them. The only problem with this approach is that it makes you have irrational perspectives of such situations. As the name insinuates, this form of therapy exposes you repeatedly to your anxiety triggers. With time, you become desensitized to them because your brain understands that the fear is unfounded. Other professional therapy solutions include hypnosis, biofeedback, relaxation techniques, and various exercises.
Are you struggling with anxiety during lockdown? Hopefully, the tips outlined above will help you manage it better. As you bravely confront your mental struggles, you must believe that they’re not permanent. Your willpower, strong support network, and professional mental health solutions will help you overcome. Please contact us immediately for more information.
Sara Anderson is the head of content for the EzCare clinic, a medical clinic that provides world-class health care services. She has been associated with the health care industry for 10+ years and specializes in health care and medical content.