Coronavirus induced anxiety: tips on how to cope from a mental health professional

Published: Mar. 17, 2020 at 7:06 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - If you are feeling completely overwhelmed right now, you are not alone.

Licensed professional counselor Mary Krenzel of Bloom Counseling and Wellness in Wilmington says it is completely normal to feel that way.

“There are many things to be concerned about right now and I think having those concerns is perfectly normal based on what’s going on in the world around us. When it becomes an anxiety situation is typically when we can’t think about anything else. Our functioning is now so focused on the information that we’re taking in that we cannot move forward with our daily living,” she said.

With daily life changing by the minute in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Krenzel says there are plenty of ways to help calm both your body and mind if you have reached that point.

One easy way to do this? Krenzel says get up and move.

Whether you’re cleaning a room or exercising at home, getting your blood pumping can be one of the best ways to alleviate anxiety.

To calm the mind, try to simply focus on your breathing.

“Dealing with anxiety on a physical level can be as simple as ‘I’m going to just take a nice deep breath. How many can I count to on my inhale? How many can I count to on that exhale? And see if we can match that inhale with that exhale.’ That’s a very quick easy thing you can do, people don’t need to know that you’re doing it.”

Krenzel also says reframing how you think about things can be helpful,

“For our thoughts, if we feel like we have racing thoughts and just can’t think about anything else we can start thinking about ‘how can I reframe this? Can I look at the statistics that I’m hearing about all of the things happening, is there a way I can look at this in a different way? Can I look at how many cases of people that have survived, is there a positive that I can focus on instead of the concern and the worry?'” she said.

Normal routines have been disrupted, which can make feeling normal very difficult. In a time of social isolation, feeling connected to others is especially important.

Krenzel also says it’s important to look at who you interact with normally and if you benefit from those interactions.

Often times on social media, our circles are much wider than those who we would typically interact with so limiting exposure to negativity is especially important right now.

“If we are not able to connect with people physically in the same room the way we once did, it’s going to be important to continue phone conversations, online presence or any type of connection with the people we feel closest to,” Krenzel said.

During a global health crisis, it is important to maintain your mental health as well as your physical health. Krenzel says to reach out for support if you need it.

“It is absolutely normal to have concern over what is going on in our world. And what we can do about that is focus on what do I have control over? And over the course of my life I might have control over what I do, and what I think, and what I say," she said.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services offers more mental health resources here.

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