Daniel Katz, Psy.D
4 Ways to Channel Coronavirus Anxiety
Updated: Mar 25, 2022
A lot of people are very concerned about the novel Coronavirus. This anxiety is understandable. Anxiety is an emotional response to alert us to danger and help us mobilize and seek safety. However, with this pandemic, as with many things in life, there is only so much you can do. Please take the advice of doctors and government officials. Proper hand washing, limiting your time in crowds, limiting travel are all helpful. Additionally, you may want to take precautions in case circumstance warrant a prolonged period of limited mobility. I want to remind anyone who takes medication, and especially our clients who take psychiatric medication to make sure you have enough for a few weeks. This is a stressful time already, suddenly stopping psychiatric medication can trigger mental health episodes and crisis.
Sometimes preparation helps ease anxiety, other times is does not. Again, with many factors outside of our control, preparation can only go so far. Panicking about a situation like this rarely is helpful. If you find yourself with some anxious energy, here are some suggestions for helpful ways to channel that anxiety.
There are many great organizations around Houston that could use your help. Houstonians come together in times of crisis. There are many volunteer operations for corona virus specific activities as well as general needs. Using your anxious energy to help others is a great way to be reminded of things in your own life to be grateful for and feel more connected to your fellows. Additionally, it can really help with self-esteem. Most people will feel a lot better after volunteering for 3 hours instead of binge watching some trashy show in efforts to escape their anxiety.
-The Houston food bank is asking for donations and for volunteers to help organize and prepare food – register for a shift
-Here is a list of local non-profits that are requesting help
-Volunteer Houston is an easy to navigate site with many opportunities and agencies
Edit: This post was written before the CDC and local government was recommending social distancing. At this point, it is probably better to find some ways to volunteer virtually and avoid being in groups of people. It might be helpful to reach out to friends and family who are having a hard time. Some virtual company or good conversation can be really helpful at times like this.
Regular exercising is one the best things you can do for your mental and physical health. Aside from releasing endorphins, exercising our bodies helps us to ‘work out’ our anxiety. Anxiety activates our entire nervous system, physical movement is an easy way to discharge some of that activation. Use that activation to go for a run, do some yoga, or calisthenics. Our bodies were made to move.
3. Creative Endeavors
Throughout the ages we have used emotional distress to fuel artistic expression. Some of the greatest works of art, music, and literature have been inspired by anxiety or duress. While you don’t have to paint a masterpiece, using some of your anxious energy to hone some artistic skills or expression can be helpful.
Maybe you can learn to play a musical instrument, pick back up those old watercolors, or just start sketching on a blank paper. Art is a great way to activate our bodies and minds in different ways, which can help us to better process and express our emotions.
4. Projects around the home
Most people have a list of various home improvement projects. We tell ourselves, if only I had the time, or the energy, I will get to it. Well, if you are very anxious and spending less time going out, now you have both. This could be something as simple as organizing a closet, or weeding the garden, to something more complicated like making a wood table for the first time, or changing the tile in the kitchen.
As always, general self-care is recommended. Eat healthy, sleep well, take care of your body and mind. All of these things will help you to be more resilient to any stressors or hardships. Psychotherapy is another great way to reduce your distress and help you be more resilient. Mental health is important. We are still seeing clients in person and are offering teletherapy or phone sessions to anyone who does not want to or can not come into the office.
Have any other ideas on ways to channel anxiety? We would love to hear about them in the comments